In thy mouth and in thy heart…

One of the foundations of the Jewish faith is the commandment of repentance. In fact, our sages teach that repentance is so great that it preceded the creation of the universe (Tanchuma Naso 11). This statement clearly implies that repentance is a prerequisite for the existence of the world; otherwise, it could have waited until after creation. Indeed, it did not take long for man to appreciate the urgency of repentance, for just a few hours after creation, he disobeyed the only commandment he was given. Continue reading “In thy mouth and in thy heart…”

Betzalel’s Poem

Hi everyone!

Like most bloggers, I use this blog as a platform to share my thoughts and feelings with as many people as I can reach. All the Posts on this blog were mine. Up until now.

After my friend Betzalel read the post Holy Snakes he sent me the following poem. I felt it would be wrong if I would keep it to myself. It is one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever read. So here it is: Continue reading “Betzalel’s Poem”

Self-Control: Step One

Introduction

It all started many years ago, shortly after we reached adolescence. We were innocent, pure, and clean; our feet walked the path in the direction of heaven. Not long after we embarked on our journey, we curiously studied the surroundings of our path, and that is when the trouble began. Side roads breaking off our path appeared every few meters; they overwhelmed us with their excitement and pleasure, their glamour and beauty. As hard as we tried to stay true to our path and its destiny, the side roads enticed us to change our ways. At one point or another, we succumbed to their seduction and abandoned our path. Months, years and decades passed with lightning speed but we were too drunk to feel the passage of time. One day, we awoke like a drunkard from his wine; we looked around and wondered where we are, how did we get there, and then worried of the final destination to where these roads lead us. Continue reading “Self-Control: Step One”

Tribute to Elie Wiesel

“Man comes closer to God through the questions he asks Him, he liked to say. Therein lies true dialogue. Man asks and God replies. But we don’t understand His replies. We cannot understand them. Because they dwell in the depths of our souls and remain there until we die. The real answers, Eliezer, you will find only within yourself.” (Moishe the Beatle, Night ch. 1)

The book of Job is not an easy one to read. It is a story of a righteous man tested by God to almost unbearable limits; he then rebelled against God by cursing the day he was born. Following is forty chapters of heated debate between Job and his three friends about justice and fairness in God’s judgement. Job relentlessly questions the ways of God and rebuts all the defenses offered by his friends. Continue reading “Tribute to Elie Wiesel”

Marriage: Angels and Popes

What is the Jewish perspective on marriage? Why does Judaism put such an emphasis on marriage and family? When looking at different religious icons, contemporarily and historically, we realize a behavior of abstention of physical engagements and celibacy. The obvious explanation being, that spiritual people should spend their days in prayer, meditation and elevated activities. An intimate relationship would not only be a distraction from all the above but a direct involvement with the earthy world they are so desperately running away from. So why is it that all great Jewish teachers, prophets, priests[1] and sages, married and bore children? Would they not be better off spiritually if they would live like their non-Jewish counterparts?
Continue reading “Marriage: Angels and Popes”

Celebrating Hitler Day?!

There is a beautiful, heartwarming prophecy in Zachariah (8:19)

Thus saith the Lord of hosts; “The fast of the fourth [month,] and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah- joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; love the truth and peace.”

The prophet apparently visualizes the day that Israel will be freed from persecution and liberated from their exiles; and thus, the days that were designated for mourning and sorrow in the past, will be days of celebration henceforth. While being naturally comforting, with a little thought we realize its inspiration to be a bit strange. Continue reading “Celebrating Hitler Day?!”

Communism and Tassles

“‘And Korach took‘. What parsha precedes this episode? – ‘Speak to the Israelites concerning the making of Tzitzit (fringes).’ Korach stepped forward turning to Moses: “You say, “Put on the fringe a thread of blue (Techelet) wool.” What about a garment that is itself a blue colour, would it not be exempt from the blue thread?” Moses replied, “It is obligatory to have the blue thread.”  Said Korach, “A garment which is all blue is not exempt and four meagre threads do the trick!?” (Tanchuma, Korach)

This Midrash is a little puzzling. It is obvious from the context that Korach had not come to Moses to ask an objective Halacha of tzitzis. He had no interest in the laws of tzitzis; he was asking a rhetorical, philosophical question. He asked Moses, why something perfect would need an outside element to enhance it. Continue reading “Communism and Tassles”

What else is new?

“What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” Deuteronomy 12:32

The following is a description of my experience as an amateur writer, and somewhat a confession. First, I try to take ideas that are eating at my senses, attempt to write them down in the best way possible and then read it twenty times. Eventually, I get sick of reading my own words, so I share the writ with my friends and family. Some of the readers appreciate it and others are outraged (all have grammatical corrections to offer). Whatever, it keeps me busy for a few days. Continue reading “What else is new?”

Holy Snakes

The Israelites’ journey through the desert en route to the Holy Land was dramatic, adventurous, and Utopian. Enveloped in the Clouds of Glory they were protected from the inevitable dangers of the desert; they ate manna from heaven and drank water from a rock, their clothes were never ragged and their shoes never tattered. In the communal realm, they had many peaceful moments Continue reading “Holy Snakes”

עקיבא, כל הפורש ממך כפורש מן החיים

בביאור דברי הגמ’ (מנחות כט:) כשעלה משה למרום ראה שהקב”ה יושב וקושר כתרים לאותיות. אמר לפניו, רבש”ע מי מעכב על ידך (מה שכתבת שאתה צריך להוסיף עליהם כתרים. רש”י), אמר לו יש אדם אחד וכו’ עקיבא בן יוסף שמו שעתיד לדרוש על כל קוץ וקוץ תילין תילין של הלכות. אמר לפניו רבש”ע הראהו לי, אמר לו חזור לאחוריך, ישב בסוף ח’ שורות ולא ידע מאי קאמר, תשש כוחו כיון שהגיע וכו’ כך קבלתי ממשה מסיני עיי”ש. יש לדקדק הרבה. קודם כל, למה לא הבין משרע”ה למה קושר כתרים, בודאי אם היה חושב שיש מה לחדש בתגים אלו לא היה שואל בפשיטות מי מעכב וכו’. וגם למה לא הבין מאי קאמר, הלא ידע כל מה שתלמיד ותיק עתיד לחדש. ועוד אם תלמידי ר”ע הבינו, עד כדי כך שמשרע”ה ישב בסוף ח’ שורות, זאת אומרת שלפניו ישבו ז’ שורות של תלמידי ר”ע, הרי הוא לא היה בר אוריין פחות מהם. וגם מזה שנח דעתיה בזה שאמר כך מקובלני מפי משה, נראה שיש לזה שייכות לעצם ענין החלישות הדעת,להבין מהו. ובכלל קשה בנוגע לר”ע, הלא אם יכולים לחדש כ”כ בהתגים בודאי בהאותיות יכולים לחדש פי כמה וכמה, א”כ למה לו לחדש בתגים אם יכולים לחדש בהאותיות. וגם אפשור לשאול על מימרא דר”ע ואהבת לרעך כמוך זה כלל גדול בתורה, הרי יש כמה וכמה עיקרי הדת ולא מצינו שאהבת רעים נמנה בינהם, ובאמת למה יהיה זה כלול ביניהם. Continue reading “עקיבא, כל הפורש ממך כפורש מן החיים”