Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's the Terrain - Stupid!

Any doctor knows full well, whatever the malady, the most likely cause must first be ruled out. Only if the cause is NOT that which is most common, THEN, and only then, should he look for another cause.

We KNOW the NUMBER ONE CAUSE of disease. The Code of Jewish Law spells it out for us in simple language. You can find it in
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, chapter 32, law 3, latter half.

Unless this cause of most diseases is not ruled out, the diagnoses rendered are wrong - often dead wrong! That's because if the system fails for that most frequent reason, the system can break down in any of a multitude of ways.

Conventional medicine sees each of these multitude of ways as DIFFERENT DISEASES - when in fact they merely are looking at the symptoms - without ANY regard for the primary cause.

So if you know someone who suffers a chronic, degenerative disease, the likelihood he can be cured, by considering the primary cause, is high. That's because God gave us a body that can recover from chronic, degenerative disease - despite what conventional medicine thinks or says - if the primary cause is not ignored!

A doctor, long ago, studying medicine in Germany, before WWII, by the name of Max Gerson, suffered from migraines. Because doctors failed to cure him, he decided to go on an extremely stringent diet, at first eating nothing but apples, apple juice and apple sauce. He noticed his headaches never returned. That's when he added, slowly, more and more items to his diet, until he was sure the diet he ended up with suited him fine, and his migraines never returned. Later he went on, similarly, to CURE tuberculosis of the skin (read this story and you will be amazed), and, thereafter, he cured cancer (read this story too, if you haven't yet). By the way, the doctor who DISCOVERED tuberculosis won a Nobel Prize for it, whereas the guy who could cure it - did not!

What do migraines have to do with diet? The same thing it has to do with cancer, and most other chronic, degenerative diseases, namely, WE DON'T KNOW - it's just that that's the way it is! The SYMPTOMS of disease are many, because the system can break down in any of a multitude of ways. There's little point in calling each of these breakdown syndromes by names - or "diagnoses"; Unless of course you want to make money, paint the picture "complicated", and charge for "treatment" of that "specific disease" (which it ain't!).

Trust Torah. Trust the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, which gets all his information (for chapter 32) from the Rambam.

(I chew on this topic more elaborately here:
The Zebra and the Horse)

It's not so much that BACTERIA, VIRUSES or FUNGI cause disease! It's the TERRAIN they fall upon that's the problem!! The person who eats healthy, child or adult, will usually remain healthy. (So much so that the Rambam guarantees this fine state of health - until the day the person dies in his old age!)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Inverted Tree

If the entire universe is an expression of God, He Who is One, then there must be some way to comprehend how a world that embodies finiteness and boundaries can stem from, or represent, the Single God.

Chassidus resolves this conundrum with the concept of "Levels of Derivation". The best way I know to describe this concept is by imagining an upside-down tree, where its root, which points upward, represents our abstract of God, and therefrom descends the tree-trunk, which gives off branches along the way. The higher the branch, the loftier its creative source. Each branch along the trunk can become the source for created elements.

For example, take the case of "miracles". These can be generalized into two categories, those that override Nature and those that cooperate with Nature.

Those miracles that occurred in Egypt, starting with water turning into blood, and, finally, the splitting of the Reed Sea, derived from one level of Godliness.

The other sort of miracle, those that enclothe themselves within Nature, keeping intact the framework of Nature, have another source. The miracles of Purim and Chanuka exemplify this category.

In fact, according to the Rebbe, the latter miracles derive from a level higher than the source of those miracles that break the rules of Nature.

There is yet a third level of miracles, those that derive from the highest source; These miracles the person cannot recognize them for what they are. Such a miracle only God Himself is privy too.

Within the mechanics of Nature God can manipulate things as we go about our daily tasks using free choice, to produce for us miracles. The better Nature conceals the miracle, the loftier its source. But, of course, the source is the One Above, only the level at which things derive and "drop-off" for Nature to absorb have differences.

(An idea involved in the Rebbe's Ma-amar [Sefer Hama-amarim, Melukat vol. 4, pp.123-134], although not yet well enough understood by me. Please forgive me, though, for scribbling my premature thoughts. The learning of these Ma-marim requires industrious study. They differ from normal "talks" [שיחות] in that they reflect divinity more directly [דברי אלוקים חיים] and thus I must return to these preambles to correct or just slice away some parts until they are more fully understood. Again my apologies.)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Whys of the Wise

The Haggadah refers to "the 4 sons" about whom Torah speaks to. The wise son's mention is followed by mention of the wicked son.

Why this juxtaposition? Why aren't the 4 sons ordered from good to bad, so that better sons appear before the worst of them (such as the "simple one" or the "one that can't ask")?

Placing the wicked son next to the wise one comes to teach us, by way of hint, the great value there is in performing Torah's commandments in a simple, humble and unpretentious manner, in performing them without questioning. After all, Torah enjoins us, "Be faithfully simple with Your G-d" (Deut.18:13).

Even though the wise son asks questions - to dig deeper all the time to reach a more profound level of understanding, from which no harm can come, nevertheless, occasionally, like a double-edged knife that can turn on you, a multitude of questions can demonstrate the lack of a simple attitude, a lack of submission to the yoke of Torah. Questioning can on occasion become a slippery slope to slide off the good path, a means to justify wickedness, G-d forbid.

This juxtaposition, therefore, comes to suggest a warning. As the Previous Rebbe once overheard from elder chassidim, "The asking of WHY can sometimes arise from an impure instinct!" There can be a fine line between the whys of the wise and the whys of the Rasha.

Monday, April 07, 2014

The Secret of the Sacrifice

Used to be, back when we had the Holy Temple, we had a unique way to relate to God.

If we survived a trip through the dangerous desert, and in happiness wanted to express our thanks to Hashem, we visited the Holy Temple and offered a sacrifice.

If we mismanaged our priorities and transgressed, and in sadness wanted to ask pardon for our sin, we visited the Holy Temple and offered a sacrifice.

If we just felt good and wanted to volunteer appreciation to God, we visited the Holy Temple and offered a sacrifice.

Every form of communication we could have with God came by way of a singular form of interaction - sacrificing an animal. The animal could be a calf, sheep or goat, or a dove.

The question to ask, of course, is - what's behind this ceremony? Why this avenue to express the relationship a Jew has with God?

Couldn't they come up with a better form of expression? A guy wants to give thanks to God for saving him during a trek through the desert, so he goes to Jerusalem, pays 100 shekels for a calf, has it burned on the altar, until nothing is left; This is the way to communicate to God? Would it not be better to thank God in a synagogue, then take the 100 shekels and contribute it? He could buy the synagogue a new curtain, or give a poor man some charity or to a school to pay their teachers, etc.

Why burn an animal, from which nothing is left?

And what about the sinner who wants a pardon? Would it not be better to fast, beg forgiveness, than to offer an animal sacrifice?

What sense is there in this; What connection does an animal sacrifice have with what he does?

In fact, this question bothered most of our great sages? What's with this cult of sacrifices?

Another question: Regarding sacrifices, God is said to "smell the great smell", or to "have it as His bread", etc. Any ear that hears such talk can only wonder at the crudeness or heresy of such anthropomorphic talk. Does God need food, or can He enjoy a smell? The Rambam says, "He has no body, nor any resemblance to one" - so what gives? Let alone that burning an animal smells horrible!

When Noah emerged from the Ark and found the world completely desolate, he offered thanks to God with a sacrifice. The entire flood and world devastation, which eliminated all evil from the face of the earth, did not satisfy God's anger, so to speak. Only when "He smelled the good odor of Noah's sacrifice" was God appeased and then promised "that no more will a flood destroy the earth, because man is bad to start with anyhow."

When Korach and his cohorts were swallowed by the earth, for their uprising against Moses, Jews gathered to complain against Moses and Aaron. Moses sensed God's anger and quickly ordered Aaron to bring a burnt offering. By the time Aaron got around to it, 14,000 Jews lost their lives. When God sensed the burnt offering, "the plague ceased!" A burnt herbal offering is also a sort of sacrifice.

Similarly, when King David realized he caused a plague among the Jewish people by counting them, his sacrifice stopped the plague - albeit after tens of thousands died meanwhile.

So again, what's behind a sacrificial expression that subdues His anger, that stops a plague? Not prayer, or anything else - only a sacrifice can allay God's anger against us. What's the secret behind the sacrifice?

There must be a good chassidic answer. I thought I had it, but, in fact, I know it not!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Behavioral Catalyst for the Era of Redemption

Great minds forged the Jewish genealogy and psychology. Abraham and Sarah started it; Isaac and Rivkah reinforced it. The entire family of Jacob embodied it and secured the mold for themselves.

This family then descended to Egypt where their character was tested. But they maintained their distinctiveness among the heathens. Even 210 years of slavery could not divert their focus from God. All matters were constantly attuned to G-d; Any other perspective they deemed bizarre. With this singular, tenacious, divine perspective on life the Jewish nation nurtured its self-actualization.

(Until today, in fact, very few people worldwide, besides the Jews, are consumed with - or can even relate to - the pure concept of "One G-d and nothing else". Whereas for the modern Jew, he has a prodigious library where every book attests to his ancient, unique faith.)

The Jewish forefathers performed all Torah commandments, like wearing Tzitzis, for example, only they did so as an exercise of the mind rather than actually wearing fringes.

In the year 2448 God's plan for the world was about to enter the final phase of development. It came by way of a pivotal phenomenon that would impose new requirements upon a nation that earned this spectacular reward because of their devoted meditative absorption. God needed a nation upon which to lavish His revelation by the time the world's Sabbatical millennium would be reached. The Jews redeemed from Egypt now merited this new, brilliant horizon for which to pave the way to reach that final goal.

Just as the phenomenon of Mount Sinai required generations of preparation, so too the final and ultimate redemption would require preparation. Except that now the means by which to prepare involved a fundamental change. Until Mount Sinai the emphasis needed to be on the spiritual or psychological component of a Jew's deeds; The actual operative deed mattered little. After Mount Sinai, however, the emphasis shifted to the behavioral component itself, relegating the spiritual component secondary.

Mount Sinai's event engendered a switch in requirements. From then on, Jews were charged with a new responsibility in order to fulfil G-d's original cosmic agenda. Until the Mount Sinai phenomenon intentionality was paramount; From then on - action was paramount. After the advent of Torah, obeisance to the DEED displaced intentionality as the chief ingredient. The task from now on spoke louder than premeditation. The commandments of Torah demanded a task-oriented disposition rather than a philosophical one.

For example, on Passover, if a Jew has all the right intentions regarding Matzah, but fails to eat it, he draws down nothing! He receives no credit for his devout inspiration! On the other hand, he who has no intentions at all, but eats the Matzah, succeeds in drawing down the incremental change required to transform the world into its redemptive outcome.

So, whereas the first, formative 7 generations of Jews were saddled with a mental mission of orientation, forthcoming generations were charged with a new mission - one of mechanical activity, going through motions. The phenomenon of Mount Sinai introduced the novel aspect where intentionality could help, but no longer was key!

One by one, each mitzvah (commandment) accumulates to draw the exalted redemptive light that will, once critical mass is reached, overwhelm the Jewish people and the world with incredible goodness, wisdom and rapture, when flesh will see divine revelation.

Moses and his generation constituted the last of Jewish forerunners who molded the Jewish people out of a spiritual mindset that drove them. From Joshua's generation and henceforth, the deed itself became the imperative.

Ancient Egypt ranked as the mightiest empire in the world at the time. No other army was as formidable. Egypt possessed the world's original horses and bred them. These drove their armored chariots. A horse was royal property. No horse could be taken beyond Egypt's impermeable borders without royal consent at the highest levels. But G-d, with a "strong arm", redeemed the Jewish people and made them His Nation.

The Jews then experienced redemption - but not a Final Redemption! They also experienced the incredible light of G-d on the 7th Passover day (when they emerged from the Reed Sea), and then again on the 50th day of their travel toward Mount Sinai - when they received the Ten Commandments. Thereafter, the incredible light (for lack of a better word) was shuttered. This magnificent radiance waits to be revealed in the 2nd and final redemption, that will occur (in our days) more than 3 millennia later. This second redemption will even outshine that of the Mount Sinai revelation.

Curiously enough, to contribute to receive that light, takes nothing more than simple, rote behavior, as per the commandments of the written and oral Torah. Our deeds - more than the intentions we put behind them - stack up as the important tokens that will trigger the exposure of the Final and Ultimate Era of Redemption. It takes doers to draw that utopia closer, and not intricate, erudite, profound wisdom seekers. For example, before Mount Sinai, Jacob's clan did not need to don tefillin but rather had to earnestly subjugate their hearts and minds to the divine presence. Whereas post-Mount Sinai, Jews must wrap themselves according to Mount Sinai's Oral Tradition's dictates.

This is a chassidic secret of the phrase "We will accept and [then] we will understand" (Ex.24:7). Understanding will eventually follow and serve as the ultimate reward for the simple act of doing. Muscle movements, as it were, will yield mindful insight, and soon the full-blown Redemption!