Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Breakthrough for Multiple Sclerosis

Here's hopeful news for MS sufferers from Dr. Paolo Zamboni in Italy. Chances are the "Pharma clique" may thwart its application as long as they can, for while diminishing its significance they can continue to ply their toxic, worthless - but expensive - drugs. While they're at it, they'll also push their baseless "auto-immune" etiology.
NEWS UPDATE:  Here's a story by Dr. Rowen about a MS patient diagnosed 10 years ago, and how an almost miraculous cure by a Dr. Robson via orthotics helped her breath better, which led to better oxygen saturation of her blood and relief of debilitations. And all he did was - correct her posture! 

In light of Dr. Paolo Zamboni's above findings, it's more than likely - and this is my guess - this lady's cranial venous return was compromised, either from poor posture or asymmetric muscular tension, which then caused blood to back up in the brain chronically. But one thing is for sure - the pathologic immunological causation of MS can be eliminated.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Midrash Explained - The Future Foretold

Not all Jews left Egypt in the historical "Exodus". In fact, a minority left. Because they didn't want to leave, the majority died during the Plague of Darkness several weeks earlier (Rashi; Shmos 10, 22). Thus G-d spared the remaining Jews, busy burying their dead, from being embarrassed by Gentiles who otherwise would see this tragedy; Nor could the latter take joy in this.

The any-day-now final exodus for the Jewish diaspora will differ in some respects from the first exodus, one difference being the percentage of Jews involved. The final exodus, unlike the first, will include 100% of world Jewry - said the Rebbe. No matter how remote or obscure a place a Jew will be in, physically or spiritually, every Jew will be included.

How many, in fact, departed in the first exodus? The Torah uses a cryptic word to tell us (Shmos 13, 18): "... and the Israelites left Egypt 'penta-armed'". Just what does this Hebrew word mean? The Mechilta says, "It means 'well-provisioned' [i.e., all left]. Some say 1 out of 500 left, some say 1 of 50, and some say 1 of 5".

But how can opinions differ regarding a physical fact (probably well known in the time of the sages)? What's more, how could the disparity be so ridiculously vast, from 0.2% to 100% - a 500-fold variance?!

Says the Rebbe, these are not disagreements. Rather, the Midrash comes to teach us what The Final Redemption will look like! The sages are not speaking of the past; They're actually intimating to us what stages the future redemption process will go through!

At first, only 1 in 500 Jews will actually want this exile to come to an end. Most will prefer to focus on their primary concerns of business as usual. But the few desiring redemption will persist. Their tenacity will pay off because, later, 1 in 50 will push for its arrival. Finally, thanks to the perseverance of this minority, 1 in 5 will want out, and ultimately - it will include every Jew.

It's not unusual for a "Chabadnik" to hear, "What's this issue you have with Moshiach; He'll come when he'll come; What's with the urgency?"

Chabad responds simply by holding up a little light of truth that dispels more and more resistive darkness.

The many voices opposing Moshiach over the few "Moshichists" will not deter the latter.

A historical story from Tanach illustrates the point. King Chizkiyahu was faced with Sanheriv's huge army surrounding Jerusalem. They were primed for attack. The elders of Israel, even the majority of the Sanhedrin, tried to persuade the king to capitulate to this tremendous force, but Chizkiyahu held firm to his own opinion. He heard from Isaiah, the prophet of the generation, that G-d will vanquish the enemy. That was enough for him. The king remained without fear. Despite his many critics, he went to bed and slept soundly, sure to awake in the morning with a miracle rendered. He was proven right.

The majority doesn't hold sway against words of a prophet.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Mumbai Anecdote

His former name was Bahagirdesh Pradesh. His father was a high Hindu priest. He says of his father, "He had several strange idols to which he attributed different powers. I never understood how father respected man-made idols. I didn't understand why mother busied herself making meals for the idols, when often I would end up eating them covertly."

After high-school he confronted his father, "How can you believe in such nonsense?" His father remained silent. "One day I took a hammer and just smashed the idols." When his father said, "The gods will be angry", he answered, "Let them get up and do something to me!"

He continued his studies in Mumbai's medical university. There he became friends with Christian students. Sensing his keen interest in religion, they gave him the Jewish Bible (Tanach). These books excited him as he devoured their content, especially the Book of Psalms, and the figures of Abraham, Moses and the story of the Jews.

He graduated and accepted a residency in a major hospital in Mumbai. There he met his wife-to-be, a nurse. She too became drawn to the Holy Books. After they married, they decided to change their surname to Abraham, the historical figure they held in high esteem. His own first name he changed to Aaron, because of his admiration for the Jewish High Priest of ancient Israel.

They began to feel the desire to convert to Judaism. Acquaintances persuaded them to convert - as "Reform Jews". They now thought they were full-fledged Jews.

It happened the Holtzbergs, Chabad emissaries of the Rebbe, who ran a "Chabad House" in Mumbai, had a son with severe congenital problems, who needed emergency treatment. They rushed the child (who later passed away) to the emergency room in Mumbai's prestigious Breach Candy Hospital, where Dr. Aaron Abraham directed its Intensive Care Unit. From this contact with Gabi and Rivkah Holtzberg, Aaron learned that his "conversion" was, in fact, no conversion at all. He began to take classes with Gabi, while his wife took classes with Rivkah.

After the brutal massacre in Mumbai a year ago, when terrorists targeted the Holtzberg's Chabad House and murdered them in cold blood, Aaron and his wife were shaken to the core. That Chabad House had become their axis of life. There they spent every Shabbos and every holiday. Now they felt they had no more reason to stay in India. They emigrated to Israel and now live in Kiryat Arba. They continue to learn, still intent on a proper conversion to become full-fledged Jews.

The Secret of Superpower Status

Is America as the world's superpower on the decline? It may well look like it is, with Obama steering it to Hell, but this thesis predicts a more cheerful outlook.

One of the earliest superpower nations was ancient Egypt. While Jews lived there, its reign extended to include the entire world (with the help of Joseph). Subject nations were beholden to her with taxes and slaves. But once the Jews fled the country, Egypt lost this status (Mechilta, Shmos, 14, 5).

This Midrash tells that all nations that ruled over Jews achieved superpower status, projecting their control over the entire world. Why so? Because thereby G-d gives honor to His people. It would be unworthy of G-d's people to reside under the dominance of a nation less than the world's most powerful.

Babylonia too ruled the entire world, as G-d says in Yirmiyah (27, 6-8), "And now I make all these lands subject to Nevuchadnetzar's control ...,", with no exception. The same held true with the dominion of the Persians and Medes, then of Greece (under Alexander the Great), followed by the rule of Rome (Daniel, chpts. 6 & 7). 

The Alter Rebbe asserts the same thesis holds true today, namely, that the country which contains most of the Jewish population automatically gains superpower status - for the sake of Jewish honor. (Otherwise, who would even know what a Jew was, lost somewhere among two-bit nations ruling over them.)

I know too little about world history, but I'd not be surprised to learn the glory achieved by empires in Europe and Asia correlates with the majority of Jews they harbored within their borders.

Think back only a few decades ago, when both America and the Soviet Union hotly competed to see who could outmuscle the other with more intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads. These mutual threats were grave concerns for these two superpowers of the world. Remember too that both Russia and America then housed most of world Jewry.

As proof for the above thesis, the Rebbe points out the moment Russia finally raised its "iron curtain" to  permit emigration and 95% of Jews streamed out of the country, the former mighty Soviet Union evaporated. Overnight, without a shot fired, it lost its awesome superpower status. Political pundits most likely attribute the Soviet Union's downfall to the policy and wisdom of Ronald Reagan. But their analysis omits the workings of divine providence.

Today, only the U.S. retains its superpower status.

Remember too, not long ago, how powerful became the industry of Japan, how everything was made in Japan, and how strong the Yen seemed to be? In the end, their climb to the top fizzled. Why? They have no significant quantity of Jews in that country, so why would G-d flaunt their banner? Are you worried about China and its projected power? Don't be - they hardly have any Jews there.

There's a sorrowful irony in this. The problem for Jews throughout history has been, that despite their major host country achieving superpower status, Jews continued to be hounded. This ill fate has, however, finally changed with our American host. Why so? Says the Rebbe, because we've entered the eve of the "Era of the Ultimate Redemption". (And for no other reason). This favorable fate shall continue until that era finally dawns.

The corollary of this thesis also held true, namely, whenever Israel was to be conquered, G-d would only allow the mightiest of nations to conquer His people. Paradoxically, that too was for the honor of the Jews.

This corollary holds true today too and I relate to the threat by Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the globe. Israel too, after all, with its own large population of Jews, is a powerful force to be reckoned with, despite some Obama-like creeps in the hierarchy. Iran is a punk-country and there's no chance G-d would allow it to subdue His people, just as Israel's enemies have been unable to beat Israel over the years no matter how many punk-countries colluded to destroy her.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Moshiach's Shadowy Trail

Where did the holy, maternal seed of Moshiach originate? In Sodom! And what event received this first honor? Incest! From this union came Ruth and Na'amah, wives of Boaz and Shlomo, respectively. 

And what misdeed initiated the fraternal, genealogical line of Moshiach? A union between Tamar, draped as a roadside prostitute, and Yehuda, her former father-in-law whom she seduced, from which Peretz was born. Her intent, to be sure, was sublime and pure.

Although beneficent, G-d introduced bad into the world to balance out the good, to give mankind free choice, to provide merit for their good choices and demerits for their bad ones. Similarly, G-d infuses counter-forces, or "dark" forces, into the world to fight and balance out holy forces, or sources of "light". No initiative for the sake of sanctity can exist without its corresponding counter-measure that promotes desecration. 

Being that Moshiach, the holiest of souls, is predestined to escort the world to its ultimate level of sanctity, a mighty counter-measure of "darkness" has the capacity to resist this "light". To give rise to the holy Moshiach, the seeds that will unite in creating this person must find a way to materialize, by removing resistance to their existence. Only under a facade of "darkness" can these seeds retain their holiness and survive. Under the guise of illicitness, this condition fools the unsuspecting opposition. This counter-force of darkness simply does not expect to find holiness within an apparent taboo, thus resistance is effectively eliminated. 

Lot and his 2 daughters escaped from Sodom as this huge city and its 4 neighboring cities underwent an unnatural upheaval and infernal destruction. Only 10 generations earlier the Great Flood erased all life from the face of the earth. Now too, they thought, a similar event repeated itself. They thought they were the world's only survivors. The oldest daughter therefore proposed to her sister a scheme to inebriate her father so progeny can result from intercourse with him. Their intention came from this purity of wish.

Camouflaged by otherwise abhorrent acts, this "purity of light" managed to dodge the suspicions of the opposer. This opposition never suspected an act of incest or "prostitution" requires his intervention or resistive force. The seeds thereafter will need to find future conditions that masquerade as seemingly improper situations where their holiness can dwell, to remove the bad opposer's suspicion and survive yet another critical juncture along the holy genealogical path. 

Once married, the seeds of Boaz and Ruth established the House of David. Thereafter, the seeds of Na'amah and Shlomo finalize the familial dynasty towards Moshiach.  

Events cast in murky circumstances typify the path of this pure light that must not call attention to itself, but rather must hide in places of impurity, if not from generation to generation, then at least at important genealogical intersections, to assure its survival, until it finally arrives to its final destination and revelation - the end-product that manifests as Moshiach.

Take the story of aging Boaz, the greatest personage of that generation, who decides to marry the younger Ruth. The circumstances that lead to this moment are all fascinating, but we focus on one of them. He calls together the elders to rule whether or not he can marry Ruth, who derives from the most despicable nation, Moav. The elders rule a Moabite can never enter the Jewish nation, but a Moabitess - can. Boaz then marries her - and passes away the same day! The elders, taken aback, now think perhaps they ruled incorrectly. So the seed of Oved comes to life with an aura of suspicion cast upon him.

Now take the story of Oved's son, Yishai. He was extremely righteous, one of the few in the world who never sinned. After having 7 sons, he rethinks his grandfather's affairs, and suddenly, as if a screw loosened in his brain, is seized with terror. Could it be, in fact, his grandfather Boaz illicitly married Ruth? In his righteousness he wants to prevent his virtuous wife from bedding with a Moabite such as he, in fact, may be. So he shuns her. His sons later realize the separation. Years later, knowing Hashem wants for people to live normally on earth, he sets his eyes upon his Gentile maidservant. He conditions a marriage with her as follows: He releases her from servanthood and to become a Jewess if he, in fact, is a kosher Jew; But she remains a servant in case he's not kosher, in which case she retains her Gentile status and is permitted to lay with him. 

Seeing Yishai's wife in anguish from the separation, the maidservant offers her a scheme, to exchange herself just as Rachel had replaced herself with Leah the night she wedded Jacob, 10 generations earlier. Months later the boys note the mother's pregnancy and tell the father she and her fetus must be killed. The father agrees but points out a "technicality"; Casting aspersion on the mother's conduct automatically casts this same aspersion upon the boys themselves, for if she prostituted herself for this child, who is to say she didn't do the same previously. So they decide to banish the child-to-be, David, from their sight, by sending him off to shepherd their flock. Chances are also good this shepherd could die in these far off pastures, where lions and bears roam. Only when Shmuel anointed David did Yishai realize his son's legitimacy.

Then the whole story of David, after his anointment, yet unable to reign for another 7 years; His horrible years when haunted by King Saul who seeks to kill him; And later, when his own sons seek to kill him. Then there's the episode of the so-called "sinful" marriage to BatSheva, the mother-to-be of King Shlomo. Only before his death, does King David manage to usurp control from competing forces to crown Shlomo.

The final story of this characteristically shadowy trail is still unwritten. Before long, Moshiach will reveal himself, and the world will transform into a utopia. Darkness itself will shed its cover to reveal the inner good that gave it its life-force in the first place.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Reggie White - A Tribute to a Giant

Reginald Howard White towered over men in more ways than one.

Physically he was lean, stood 6' 5" and weighed over 300 pounds. Elected to 13 straight Pro Bowls for his many records for sacking the quarterback, Reggie became one of the greatest pass rushers the NFL ever knew. In 2006 they enshrined him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His leadership qualities paralleled his physical strength. Well before his football career, at only 17 years of age, Reggie became an ordained minister. He would preach confidently to whomever would listen. His football chums called him "the minister of defense".

But his real strength was his strength of character. After he retired from football, he began to study the original Bible. He sensed translations distort this truth, so he bypassed them and delved into studying the Bible's original language, Hebrew. He engrossed in its study, sometimes 9 hours a day. His diligence paid off; Eventually he could take up the original Torah and translate it for himself - an amazing feat for a late starter, a self-starter, in Biblical Hebrew no less. Many Jews, let alone a Gentile, do not share this ability.

He found the King James Bible often misquoted Torah and took portions out of context. He found words were added or removed or improperly translated. He would always discuss these distortions with his wife, Sara, and kids, Jecolia and Jeremy.

The more he studied, the more Torah intrigued him. The more he probed, the greater became his dismay of the past. Now he knew what he had preached as truth to people had been untrue. He felt he had cheated them. He felt sorry he raised funds for churches not true to God. His wife Sara said, “Pastors were intimidated by Reggie because Reggie knew the truth, and they knew he knew the truth.”

The more the family got involved with Torah, the more they rejected the customs they inherited. Dramatic changes ensued. They began to shake off anything that smacked of idolatry. If someone asked him, "What's your religion", he'd respond, "I'm a believer".

His family shared Reggie's spiritual journey. They felt uplifted. They became a tighter family unit. He and Sara traveled to Israel twice.

When Reggie died prematurely at the age of 43, the family held together, buttressed by their new-found beliefs. Sara said, “We got close to God and to each other … Reggie lived the years that were allotted to him to the fullest. What matters is not how long we live, but what we do while we live. He was looking for the Father, and the Father said, ‘Come home.’”

Visiting his grave site recently, she said, “Your passion was honoring God, your passion was learning Hebrew, your passion was teaching the word of God. If I can get that message across to people I think I can honor you because you accomplished so much off the field that most people can only dream about.”

Much more about this man can be learned below:

(Thank you to Bonnie Williamson for helping me put together the facts.)

ADDENDUM: Here's where the lionhearted rests:

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Disjointed and Unity Concepts of G-d

The Christian belief in G-d does not deny the concept of a G-d, but it allows for another divine autonomy to co-exist. Judaism, on the other hand, insists upon G-d's unity, rejecting any other perspective. This is the reason a Jew must not enter a church. On the other hand, under Jewish law, a Gentile is under no obligation to adhere strictly to monotheism, as long as he accepts G-d.

The Islamic view of G-d coincides with the Jewish view, which is why no prohibition exists for a Jew to enter a mosque. The fact that Muslims pervert the idea of G-d, in Whose name they'll commit the most heinous crimes, is a separate issue. That has to do with their role model, their "prophet", who Maimonides calls "The Idiot" (המשוגע). For a grown man to "marry" a 6-year-old girl, the word "idiot" is a compliment.

Since any name you'd give G-d seems inapropriate, in terms of defining the undefinable, the Jewish language uses the word "Oibershter", which means The Above. This way, no matter what concept one has, use of that name implies, "It's above that too." In Hebrew, G-d is often called "The Name" (Hashem).  Here too the title implies remoteness, something like "whatever-you-call-it".

The 2nd principle of Maimonides' 13 principles of Jewish faith addresses this "Unity of God". But the word "unity" requires qualification: It means to say this is the quintessential idea of Oneness. It is not like the oneness of a pair (as in, a pair of doves - one group) and not "one", as of a species, as, e.g., a man, that has many members in this group. Nor like a body, with many components. Rather, G-d is one and there is no other oneness like His.  A Jew meditates on this fundamental every day when he recites, “Understand (Listen) Israel, Hashem Our God, Hashem is One!”