Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Secret of Jericho

Mechanisms in place can elevate the level of a Jew’s soul. Although it arrived into this world from one level, it can now reach an even higher level.

He can achieve this in two ways: He can mend his emotive constitution, and he can strategize the way he thinks, speaks and acts.

Thought, speech and action are entirely under a person’s control! Changing one’s emotional instincts, in contrast, takes inordinate efforts that cannot be relied upon.

This is why G-d did not command Moses to spy on the Land of Israel. Moses sent spies on his own accord. But before Joshua took the Jews into the Holy Land, that's when G-d commands that he send spies, and then - only that they spy the city of Jericho - not the entire country. Jericho is the key to unlocking Israel!

Why only Jericho and not the entire country?

Spying out Jewish territory implies, at the spiritual level, inspecting one's own self for Torah-true resilience. The Jew's soul is his personal Holy Land. Spying out the entire Jewish land means spying out both one’s temperaments as well as one's behavior. In turn, conquering the Canaanite land means to overhaul the entire terrain, both emotive and behavioral. However, only the conquest of Jericho, one's behavioral component, can be relied on for full control.

This is why G-d commanded that only Jericho be spied out, be investigated to see if one’s own “Jericho” subserves G-d’s wishes. Jericho, which comes from the Hebrew word “odor”, relates to smell; Just as smell affects us, but leaves no imprint, so too thought, speech and action do not reside within us.

These 3 behaviors do not "own" the person. Speech and action certainly can be good or bad, completely under full control. Even a bad thought too, should it arise, can easily and effectively be deflected with a good one. In contrast, a poor emotional response cannot so easily be mastered.

These capabilities or energies derive from an outside - higher - source made available for our use; They are not as integrative with our being as are our emotive facets. We use them to interact, but they are not tightly bound into our constitution. These faculties are tools, as "ropes" to climb with, available at our behest.  They provide us with choice under our full control. We can ascend with these ropes to draw ourselves higher. Other ropes, also of higher source, but of the negative kind, can also be used, only these would take the Jewish soul to a lower than original depth. The choice is either to climb up with them to noble loftiness, or use them to climb lower and deeper into a rut.

To analogize, think of a car. The car will not function unless gas “from the outside” is fed into it. Similarly, our souls access thought, speech and action from available external albeit higher divine sources.

Because of their higher point of derivation, these 3 faculties can raise the level of the soul to guarantee it attains a higher perch from the level it originated from in the first place. Why else was the soul sent down here into the nethermost of all worlds - if not to improve its lot?

(We spoke earlier of sources of divinity, how one is higher than the other - here.)

This is why how a person can better himself; By proper control of his "Jericho" - his thoughts, speech and actions. Like a circus acrobat who swings from rope to rope to reach a higher landing, so too the divine soul, by grabbing on to the right 3 "garments of the soul", can lift itself higher from where it initially stood.

Of course, the corollary of this configuration implies the person can also climb steeply downwards. For just as he can choose to deflect bad thoughts and change bad speech and behavior in favor of good ones, so too, by choosing the 3 garments purveyed by the Bovine Soul, his Divine Soul can be dragged to a level far lower from where it originated.
(adapted from ma'amorim of the Rebbe MH"M)

Open Your Eyes

If we’ve crossed into the Era of Redemption, as the Rebbe announced in 1991, we’re told by the prophet Michah that G-d will show us the most awesome miracles. We’ll SEE these with our very eyes, he says, “אראנו נפלאות”.

Since Redemption is a process and not an event, the degree of revelation we’ll SEE over time shall increase - until Redemption reaches full blossom.

But now, rather early into this era, miracles must be seen not so much with the naked eye but with our mind’s eye.

This most probably is why the Rebbe urged us to “open your eyes” - your mind’s eye.

So, what do we see? We see that Israel once again rose from the ashes, exists, thrives, and stands strong. Moreover, we see how genuine Torah spirit remains the bulwark against the breakdown of social values promoted by secular or "Westernized" elements.

That people speak of this or that that the Prime Minister said or did, or how X and Y reacted to what Z did, may seem like meaningful political chatter, but, if truth be told, all it really does is hinder the pace of revelations, for only Torah and Mitzvot have significant impact on our lives and on the world. Were we able to shut our eyes to political drama and stuff our ears to this inherently futile diversion, we’d much sooner sense the amazing transformation that now chugs along at snail’s pace.

Alas we are but made of human fabric and it’s hard to overhaul our psyches. And this and nothing else is why it seems foolish to expect Moshiach’s full revelation to happen overnight.

The miracles that we will see will come as Nature itself transforms and raises the level of our consciousness to new heights of perception. We’ll see details with better resolution. We’ll see divinity as it is invested in everything around us.

But until then all we can do is look for the signs of Geulah introspectively.

Is that so hard? Not if that’s what the Rebbe wants us to do. He doesn’t expect us to thread elephants into keyholes.

Well then, what do you see now? Do you not see how all of those siding against Israel, like crap in water, are floating to the top? Do you not see how an eddy of murder, torture, mutilation and insanity creates a powerful vaccuum that is sucking all these evil elements into their abysmal annihilation? What’s more, do you not see that Israel, let alone the individual experiences of normal mortality counts, may as well simply folds its arms across her chest and watch how all her enemies that surround her are being flushed down that sewage trap?

Do you not see how every war Israel ever fought abounded in miracles? Do you not see, for example, how Hizbullah, much much more powerful than Hamas, sitting on Israel’s border, is also being sucked away and into the black hole?

The worriers may continue to worry and bite their nails, but those of us that believe in the holy Rebbe’s words, while we do not trivialize the worriers’ worries, for individual sacrifices still mask the final and true redemption, find relief is SEEING and WATCHING how the Era of Ultimate Redemption is forging its way - to make this universe the utopia it was created for in the first place.

Redemptionists Chasing Their Tails

See how they paint their blogs “Redemptionist”. See how they desperately jump on clues when Moshiach will show up. See the breadth of scholarship they apply.

These people cannot get it through their skulls that seeking signs is futile because Moshiach will likely not show up in a bang. The Rambam says the world shall function “ordinarily” in Moshiach’s time (initial period).

Another reason signs never work is because humans are creatures of habit. The passage of time programs people to bide their time, to keep doing what they’re doing. Unless Moshiach parachutes in from outer space they’ll keep chasing their tails looking for that year during which he’ll pop in.

Well hear this sign-seekers: You’ll continue your hungry searching - all while it’s right there in front of you - under your noses! Moshiach already made his appearance! The Moses of the generation has already announced to the Jews the time of their ultimate redemption has begun! He also prophesied "הנה זה משיח בא"!

So for just what aspect of Moshiach are they so hungry in search of? Do they seek the end date of this gradual unfolding of the Redemption period? Are they after the retroactive start date?

Need signs? Then look at the halachic signs of how to identify Moshiach. Now here you have plenty - nay, ALL - signs that the Rebbe qualifies as Moshiach!

They need seek no more. They need to set aside the ego, set aside the smarts, and pour over the Rebbe’s teachings, especially since he invoked the midrash's prophecy, "The time of your Redemption has arrived, humble ones!"

Sunday, October 19, 2014

King Moshiach in Limbo

Even a pessimistic “Redemptionist”, he who rejects a qualified Moshiach candidate, understands we will not know anyhow for certain, until the war with Amalek is waged and the 3rd Temple is built, who Moshiach really is; Only then can we identify him with certitude. That’s according to Rambam.

In 1991 the Rebbe shook the Jewish populace at its core. He said, in effect, that Jews today, in order to bring on the Redemption, “need accept” him (e.g. see here or here).

With their return to the Holy Land, Jews now have a commandment to “choose for themselves a king”. I think the Lubavitcher Rebbe alluded to this very opportunity. Now that we've repossessed the Land of Israel, we become obliged to appoint a king.

However, even if a Jewish king can meet all requirements for being Moshiach, (as per Rambam), including the right pedigree, he does not nor can he behave as king of the Jews - unless Jews first designate him. If no Jewish king preceded him recently, then the people must launch this initiative.

Observant Jews know Chabad (“Lubavitchers”) considers the Rebbe as Moshiach, but the Jewish world at large, observant Jews not affiliated with Chabad, must also proactively participate. They too must recognize and acknowledge the Rebbe, as do Chabad chassidim, otherwise the pace of Redemption shall chug along.

Three commandments pertain to Jews in their land of Israel. The first is to nominate a king. The next two (war with Amalek and 3rd Temple Construction) must follow from the first; Nominating the king is a prerequisite to the other two.

This is what the Rebbe probably meant when he came out with his clarion call in 1991 to his thousands of emissaries, that the last step to take is to “accept him”. In fact, said he, without this step he “cannot” proceed. Moshiach’s mission cannot proceed unless sanctioned by the Jewish people. They must get together on this to move things forward.

Without acquiescing on this issue, even hypothetically, or by letting irrelevancies prevail, Jews hinder the process of Redemption; Moshiach needs Jews to accept his sovereignty!

Some Jews think all they need do is passively wait; They feel no need to contribute. But that’s because they do not yet appreciate the immense potential of their Jewish soul. They don't have time to think outside their box of conveniences.

Alas, most Jews so preoccupy themselves with Politics or Business every day - as if that really determines their Jewish future - for it will be Jewish when all is said and done. As if Jewish spirituality is insignificant ether. Meanwhile, that Jew does not yet “live Moshiach”.

Every single Jew is vital component and every Jew owns the obligation to participate in his King’s nomination.

Yes, there are plenty of Jews (observant with or without a kippah, with or without a beard) who still get thrills like when seated in a new auto, but the observant Messianic-thinking Jew regards this adolescent pleasure empty of adult priorities. The ultimate, he or she knows, is nothing less than Moshiach times; And everything else annoyingly distracts from the significant pleasure of remarkable revelations due when the Era of Redemption is in open bloom.

Eventually, I’m afraid, if not enough Jews embark on the bandwagon of the Rebbe as Moshiach, if critical mass is threatened by indifference, Hashem might tighten the screws to lurch apathetic Jews out of their exile slumber.

All this is NOT to say the Redemption is NOT in progress. On the contrary - we are well into this period that Rambam describes as “the world seeming to operate as usual”.

Sometimes the topic is, say, “Ebola”, another day it might be “ISIS”, or yet another day it might be “the stock market”, that preoccupies the casual, unaware Jew, but that the Redemption is past threshold and that he can accelerate its ultimate agenda (by preoccupying himself with Chassidus, Moshiach and Torah) - he still does not realize. He simply underrates or is ignorant of his own Jewish soul’s SPIRITUAL potential to reconfigure the fabric of this PHYSICAL world.

He does not know his own spirit’s strength. Who’d have thought an atom, 99.9% of which is empty space, could have produced the atom bomb?

The Rebbe first broke the news of the Redemption phenomenon. If we carefully squint to see clearly among the “usual” happenings, we can, in fact, see Redemption unfolding before our very eyes (e.g., here), only the process is in slow gear. Only the popular support of Jews can speed the Redemption’s ultimate revelations to come fast forward.

If only all Jews would, now, cherish the mitzvah to pick a king to rush us into the said utopia.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Ido the Prophet's Mistake

Ido the prophet (Kings 1:13) died an unusual death. G-d told him to avoid food and water in Beit El (a region of idolatry, where he prophesied to King Yerovom). He fell victim to an old man, a false prophet, who caught up with Ido traveling home, inviting Ido to dine with him. The old man duped Ido to believe he too was a prophet and that he now received a prophecy to tell Ido he can dine before taking his long return trip home.

Ido, upon taking to his trail again, encountered a lion that killed him.

Why this story in Tanach? What is its lesson? It teaches that a prophet’s mission cannot be changed by anyone other than he who delivered the prophecy to him in the first place! If Hashem dispatched him, only Hashem could now alter his mission.

The Rebbe of Lubavitch prophesied we have embarked upon the Era of Redemption. That means - for collective Jewry - they are on the road to complete redemption out of exile. It may not appear that way with the giant facade of exile still looming behind our backs, but if we “open our eyes”, we will see Redemption's manifestation unfolding as we breathe. We can begin to recognize the contours and scale of the entire transformation as we behold presently how Good and Evil become clearly demarcated for the whole world to see, and for each person in turn to pick the side he chooses, as the world turns into its new mode of existence. This Jewish New Year of 5775 draws down with it new lights with which to "see" the grand miracles that abound in this new era.

The Rebbe, besides being leader of the generation, is, as Moses was, a prophet. We have a monkey-wrench thrown into the fray (since the 3rd of Tammuz, 5754) that seems to obfuscate Natural and Supernatural aspects as to how they relate to Moshiach himself. But as long as people continue to learn about and understand Messianic issues, even if they deny the Lubavitcher reasoning, they are on the right path. (As the word “Moshiach” itself (משיח) suggests, which also spells out the words “from discourse”, (מִ  שִׂיחַ)).

No prophet can now deny the Rebbe’s mission (one he dreamed of since his childhood and) one he clearly asserted in the early 90’s. The Rebbe, as we Lubavitchers recognize, is King Moshiach. We base this presumption not on hunches but rather on the Rebbe’s own verbal pronouncements.

As the situation now deems, he cannot rule unless enough Jews acknowledge his sovereignty. A Jewish King requires the Jewish nation have a say in the theocratic initiative. May it be the will of Hashem that enough Jews awake from their diaspora slumber to commit to this fantastic turn of history, so we can already dance with Moshiach, bring Jerusalem alive with cheer and watch as Evil dissipates from physical existence and the 3rd Beit Hamikdash is built, when G-d and Jews will once regain universal prominence and nobility.

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