Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Thursday

Our daily Morning Prayer service (Shacharis) includes a particular psalm designated for that day of the week.  I have mentioned how Psalms give us guidance in solving many of life's problems.  The psalm we say on Thursday, Psalm 81, has a very interesting solution to the problems that plague this world these days.  This is not the entire psalm, but the portion of the Psalm that is of particular interest. Hashem is talking to us and giving us guidance. Please read:

Hear, My people, I will testify about you, Israel, if you would just listen to Me.  Let no strange god be within you, nor bow before a foreign god.  I am Hashem, your G-d, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt, open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.  But My people did not heed My voice, and Israel did not want Me. So I sent them to follow their heart's desires, I let them follow their own devices.  If only My people would heed Me, if Israel would walk in My ways, I would immediately subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their tormentors.  Those who cause hate of Hashem deceive [pretend obedience to] Him, but their time (of punishment) will be forever.  But He would feed him (Israel) from the cream of the wheat, and from the rock, I would sate you with honey.

There are some lines within this psalm that could use some clarification.  When the psalm talks about a strange god, it is not just talking about the idolatry of the world's religions (I hope to talk more about this in an upcoming blog post).  A big problem today is how many people worship materialism.  Money, big houses, cars, clothes, vacations, food, etc., etc., etc., are all examples of foreign gods.  It's not that Hashem doesn't want us to have nice things, but when we show more love for materialistic objects then we show for life itself and the people around us, we are showing distorted priorities and losing sight of our true purpose on earth.  It asks in Scriptures "who is rich? he who is happy with his lot." The best way to describe this is to tell you about a relative that I have who has told me how jealous he is of me.  He has much more materialism than I.  But, no matter how much he has, he is never satisfied.  He has made mention to me about the fact that I always look so happy and satisfied with what I have.  He wishes he could have such an attitude.  Since my life consists of gaining spiritual value, I know I am very wealthy.  My family and I lack nothing -- we are in want of nothing. That is true happiness -- that is true peace of mind.  People have told me I smile a lot. Happiness and the good life does that to you.

When the psalm says: "open your mouth wide and I will fill it," Hashem is telling us to state our desires.  In psalm 145, which we say three times a day, "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living being." Hashem wants to do things for us – He wants us to have what we want and to enjoy life, but as a partner in creation.  When we reject His help and not heed His voice, He tells us "to follow our heart's desires but by using our own devices."  In other words, we are on our own and whatever happens to us, was caused by our own doing.

What is even sadder is that Hashem is the only solution to our enemies and our tormentors.  Jew hatred, terrorist attacks, vandalism, war, etc., etc., etc., would all disappear immediately if we would just turn to Hashem.  He even states that our enemies would suffer greatly (instead of us). What a simple solution.  Peace would break out throughout the world.  How is that for a headline?

This psalm has a very simple and pertinent message for us.  As I have been saying for months on this blog, if we just follow the ways of Hashem, our problems are solved -- as individuals and as the Jewish nation.   Now you have the message directly from Hashem and it is guaranteed in writing. This solution has worked for thousands of years.  Unfortunately, we as a nation have taken very little advantage of it. Soon, the Messiah will be here and we will all catch on to the message.  The question is how much suffering we are willing to accept as individuals and as a nation before he gets here.  Let this Thursday be the day that we understand and accept the message that is so clearly stated.  Why put off happiness any longer?  Have a wonderful Thursday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Habits (continued)

I have completely abandoned what I was going to write about today due to responses that I received about yesterday's post.

Something that I have paid attention to for many years is the specific design of my life.  How everything that happened to me in life was meant to happen. The places that I found myself -- I needed to be there. The people that I've met and when I met them, was all destined. The many years that I spent as an engineer organizing and perfecting, was a great learning experience and was time well spent.  My career as a military officer served one very important purpose for my life; it taught me discipline. A strong lesson that one learns in the military is that one's very survival is dependent upon his or her ability to follow all the rules and regulations. Peace time consists completely of training the soldier's ability to carry out a mission with complete discipline. If one deviates from mission requirements, one could be putting himself and his fellow soldiers in jeopardy when on the battlefield. Discipline in the military means life or death on the battlefield -- success or failure in winning the war.

Habits that I talked about yesterday are no different from disciplining oneself in a military mission. The big difference is that doing the mitzvot correctly will result in life being successful both our life on Earth as well as for all eternity.  Getting into bad habits or even being lenient with the learning of others can be more detrimental than the discipline required to be successful on the battlefield.

I received comments saying that there are Rabbi's who allow this or that leniency. If a Rabbi is trying to make it easier to serve Hashem by releasing an individual from stringent obligations, he is not doing that individual any favor. His intentions may be admirable; but, if it results in bad habits for life, he has caused the individual harm.

According to Pirkei Avot I am old enough to give mussar (new word meaning: teaching moral conduct, instruction or discipline).  For years I have been very unsuccessful in doing so.  We are in a time, as it says in the Talmud, that "the old will get up for the young." There are individuals that I have tried to help by giving them mussar. The effort resulted in these individuals not talking to me anymore.  I experienced the same thing when I lived in the states.  There were very prominent Rabbis who gave mussar and were rejected.  It is interesting to me that you can give an individual very good advice in an effort to help them greatly in life -- resulting in such statements as "who are you to tell me what to do?"

I am a people watcher.  Also, I have studied psychology and sociology for many years (close to a college degree that I will never get).  My observations have shown that the individual who has many problems in life is also the same type of individual not disciplined properly in serving Hashem.  As an example, I have a neighbor who has been married four times, has had several businesses failures and has been plagued with sickness.  He is a very good person but is not too well disciplined in his obligations as a Jew.  When I confronted him with improvements that would create tremendous improvement in his life, he wouldn't hear of it.  I have seen it numerous times just how obvious the lenient observer of Judaism is plagued measure-for-measure with problems in life.  It is frustrating to me when something is so obvious and I can't help the situation. The greatest frustration is that I am talking about very nice people who could have a much better situation in life if they were more stringent about their observation of Judaism.

Am I saying that I am perfect and do not make mistakes?  No, I am actually human and make many mistakes.  The difference is I am aware of my mistakes and my human frailties and work hard on a daily basis to correct them.  My study of Torah very much has been directed at practical efforts for self-improvement.  I have mentioned that Hashem does not judge us by what we know, but how we grow.  The secret to complete success and happiness is knowing what you are lacking and working to correct it.  A stubborn attitude of "what I do is good enough" is very counterproductive.  A desire to perfect one's habits to serve Hashem better, is truly the way to success.  The most important aspect of all this is Hashem will greatly help the individual who has the correct attitude towards improvement.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt"l, told us that it is possible to have a type of hell in heaven.  He said that we could achieve heaven but be aware that we could have had a much higher level of heaven.  We would suffer with the anguish of knowing that if only I had done more on Earth, I would have brought myself closer to Hashem.   This holds true for our eternal level of The World to Come (forever and ever).
My great concern for every human being on this earth is with love and a desire to help each individual achieve his or her perfection and a very happy and joyous eternity.  Good habits are just as easy to achieve as bad habits.  With the proper effort and discipline we can have it all.  Why settle for less?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


There are basically two types of Jews in the world – those that are observant and those that are not observant, yet.  All Jews are destined to serve Hashem since it says in the Torah that we are a "Nation of Priests" (Exodus 19:6).  With some it is at birth while others it happens later in life.  Since we are also creatures of habit, I thought I would address what that means to the two types of Jews.

Two new words to learn – machmir (stringent) and meikil (lenient).  Everything we do to serve Hashem should be as machmir as possible.  Why?  As with anything in life, we manage to do just enough to get by; or, we can be with an attitude that we want our efforts to be the very best, to excel.  Since we are on a system of measure-for-measure, we will be treated in return by Hashem as machmir or meikil as well.  When we pray, do repentance, give charity, study Torah, observe the mitzvot, keep the laws of kashrus and of purity, observe the Shabbos and holidays, we can be as successful as the effort we put into it.  As an example, when we go to prayer service do we get there on time, early or late?  Do we pray with kevana (another new word meaning passion, intensity and feeling) or is it lip service – just saying the words quickly to get out of there as fast as possible?  Do we feel the trepidation of standing in front of Hashem or is our mind on the groceries that we remembered to pick up on the way home?

What do I mean by having the right kevana in giving charity?  When someone comes to the door to collect do we run to the door with enthusiasm about helping others or is it with disdain?  Having the opportunity to help others and the convenience of it coming directly to our front door should be considered a pleasant opportunity not a burden.  Whatever our attitude, Hashem is noting measure-for-measure.  I've always lived by the adage "let gratitude be you attitude."  I don't know if I made that up or not but I like it and it serves me well.

There is a story about a shtetl (Yiddish for a little town) that only had 10 Jewish men living in it.  There was a small shul (Yiddish for school but used to mean the synagogue) that always had a minion, all ten men showed up every day for prayer.  Then an 11th Jewish man moved into the shtetl.  From that day on they had trouble getting a minion.  There were always two or three men who thought "I am not needed now that we have another to help with the minion."  Unfortunately, many are in the habit of thinking it will get done without me.  One should always consider in every situation that his or her help is needed.  With a minion, with giving charity, with helping the shul or the Jewish community with an abundance of tasks – they just don't happen by themselves.

Let's talk about the two types of Jews.  It is of extreme importance when one is becoming observant to learn correctly and get into the right habits immediately.  Having a very inspirational teacher who leads you in the right direction from the very beginning can make or break your experience.  This should be someone who knows what to teach you, when to teach you and to control the speed at which things happen.  If a person becomes observant at a very slow and comfortable pace, he or she will not really notice big changes in life and will experience great success.  This can be best done with an educated guide to take you every step of the way.  If the teacher shows you all kinds of shortcuts and tells you don't have to worry about ever doing this or that, the student will be handed bad habits immediately and not too rewarding an experience.  It is good to learn how to learn.  In other words, to know what are the best books to read and best references to use when a question arises and your teacher is not available.

The other group is the already observant individual who has either a machmir or a meikil approach to everything.  What I have observed over many years is that the machmir Jew is the machmir teacher.  Fortunately or unfortunately, it is very often the children who benefit or suffer.  Individuals who are always late to prayer service or habitual talkers during prayer service usually have children who follow in their footsteps.  The biggest problem is that bad habits are generally not even recognized as bad habits but are engrained in one's daily routine.  How many times that I have heard "my father did it that way" as if that gives us permission to act improperly.  So, not only do we have bad habits, we justify in our own minds why it is OK.

My biggest suggestion for both the observant and the newly observant is to know the proper sources for answers if a Rabbi or teacher is not available and to use them frequently.  There are two main sources, the Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berurah, which are used extensively for answers.  The Mishnah Berurah, written by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (1838 – 1933), who was known popularly as The Chofetz Chaim, is perhaps the best and complete compendium of laws and explanations on just about every subject a Jew needs.  Although there are many Rabbis over the millennia that we study their commentary, there are certain Rabbis that are considered to best authorities on Jewish law, Halacha.  A Posek (plural – Poskim) is the term in Jewish law for "decider" – a legal scholar who decides the Halakha in cases of law where previous authorities are inconclusive or in those situations where no halachic precedent exists.  In the observant or Haredi world, each community will regard one of its poskim as its Posek HaDor ("Posek of the present Generation").  For the Lithuanian-style Haredi world it is probably Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, Shlita.  For the Sephardi Jews it is probably Rav Ovadia Yosef, Shlita.  The Chofetz Chaim, the Chazon Ish and Moshe Feinstein are three that have been published extensively and can be relied on for halachic guidance.  The names that I am using have all been within the past century, giving a more modern interpretation.  After all there are many questions that come up regarding, as an example, electricity and electrical appliances on Shabbos.

When I was living in the states, my Rav was Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita.  This Rabbi, who was a student of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, and is the grandson of Rav Avigdor Miller, zt"l, is a Posek of our generation.  He has written or has been involved in the authoring of about 12 books to date.  Since a half a dozen of his books are on Shabbos alone, Rav Cohen is considered one of the world's experts on the halachot of Shabbos.  About 15 years ago, I had a Shabbos question for the Rav.  I posed it to him and he answered "Let me look it up and I'll get back to you."  What, the world expert has to look it up?  I learned that day the difference between opinion and scholarship.  Rav Cohen would never give me an incorrect answer.  Unless he was absolutely positive, without any question, he would look it up and get back to me.  When I got the answer I was confident in its total accuracy.  Sometimes he would look it up in one of his own books, but he never relied on his memory when it came to the importance of giving guidance to a fellow Jew.  That is what I mean by machmir since I myself do the same thing.  I try to look things up even if I am sure of the answer.  I consider my present Rav in Israel a genius.  His memory of halachic answers is very impressive.  Yet, when I ask him a question he goes directly to the source, not to tell me the answer, but to show me where it is and how it is worded.  Talk about confidence in getting answers.

I tell you all this to impress upon you the importance of good habits.  If you are starting out, get into the proper way of doing things.  It is just as easy to do everything correctly as doing things incorrectly.  If you have been observant all your life, review on a regular basis your halachic accuracy – you may find much improvement can be done and at no extra cost.  You owe it to yourself and your family.  The Jew who serves Hashem in a meikil way may not even know that he is losing out on his efforts or that he is giving bad advice to others.  As mentioned many times we are here to perfect ourselves and to setup as wonderful an eternity for us and our loved ones as possible.  When Hashem assigns us to our place in the World to Come, that we will live forever and ever, we should all strive to be in the machmir section and not the meikil section.  The assignments are handed out measure-for-measure according to our efforts and habits we display in this world.  Make the best of it – we only get one shot. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Aish Hatorah put out these two excellent videos.  Enjoy!:
"Crash Course in Shavuot"
A fascinating, big picture overview of the holiday of Shavuot and the Ten Commandments.

"Shavuot: The Secret of Inspiration"
Why did Hashem wait 49 days before giving the Torah?
See you Tuesday (B"N).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Seeing Inside Opaque Objects

Mankind first gained the ability to see inside opaque objects after the German scientist, Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, discovered X-rays in 1895 - or so most people think.

After the People of Israel left Egypt, through the intervention of supernatural forces as related in the Torah, the masses were lead along the desert route toward the Land of Israel in a miraculous way: "Hashem went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; so that they might travel by day and by night" (Exodus 13:21).

According to the Talmud, in addition to setting the route for the Israelites, the cloud emitted a type of light that allowed them to see inside opaque objects: "A person could look at a pitcher or barrel and see what was inside it."

This is remarkably similar to our own use of X-rays, ultrasound, CT scans and MRI imaging techniques, so familiar to us today.

Also striking is a Talmud's statement that the Jewish people used the light from the clouds to examine internal bodily organs; a precursor to modern imaging techniques that allow us to view inflammations and diseases within the human body.

This was necessary to fulfil the commandment of the "Red Heifer" which entailed the slaughter and burning of a completely red cow.  On the one hand, Jewish law forbids the carcass to be butchered after slaughter, for it was required to be burned whole.  On the other hand, it was vital for the heifer to be free of any internal diseases or blemishes, similar to cattle slaughtered for human consumption.  Thus, eighteen different internal organs had to be checked after it was slaughtered, yet without a single incision being made.  This was achieved by placing the cow next to the column of cloud, and letting its light reveal what was inside.

In connection with this idea, it is appropriate to cite the verse that describes the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai: "And all the people saw the sounds, and the lightning, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking ..." (Exodus 20:14).  Tradition maintains that this verse be taken literally – the Israelites saw the sounds, even though seeing and hearing require two completely separate brain functions.  Our ears detect sound waves, convert them into electrical signals and pass them on to the brain for interpretation, while our eyes detect light rays, convert them into electrical signals and pass them on to the brain.  Yet the Sages, some 1,600 years ago, declared that "they saw that which they heard, which was impossible to see anywhere else."  Perhaps a recent invention sheds light on this statement. And while it certainly does not explain the inner meanings of the Divine revelation at Mount Sinai, it does allow our minds grasp something of this amazing phenomenon.

Today, ultrasound equipment is commonly used to scan the body's internal organs, to provide images of the fetus inside the mother's womb.  The development of ultrasound became possible only after scientists discovered that high-frequency sound waves can be used to create an image.  In other words, that which is heard can also be seen.

The Torah tells us: "The voice of the L-rd is powerful" (Psalms 29:4).  Can there be any voice more intense than Hashem's when He speaks to us in our material world?  Are we really surprised that all the People of Israel saw the voices, even without the monitors of sophisticated modern equipment?

But let me emphasize this point once again: The purpose of these comments is to help us better understand these things, not to provide a literal interpretation.  There is a deeper aspect to this that I hope to blog in the near future.  As with anything that Hashem does and provides us, the mystery is deep and fascinating.  This world is full of His glory.  It is there for us to discover and be in awe of Him. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Humor (or for our British readers Humour)

I have received comments on the fact that I like to inject humor into my blog posts.  As with any subject that I cover, there is always a hidden meaning – no joke.  We are told in the Talmud that humor is an excellent way to teach.  I have noticed all my life that the best speakers, best school teachers, the best teaching video and audio subjects are all enhanced by humor.  When I became observant I saw this trend continue in Torah learning.  The Rabbis who seem to be the most popular were those who used humor or, in this case, Jewmor.  I was an instructor for three years in an Army service school.   Not that military subjects aren't the most fascinating topic to discuss ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ (the international symbol for boredom) but I kept a list of 62 jokes on hand to get through my day.  Speaking of boredom, the other day I tried to day-dream, but I just couldn't concentrate.

You may wonder why I chose today to talk about humor.  Glad you asked.  Today is my birthday and it is part of a three day celebration for me.  Yesterday was my birthday.  Wait am I a little confused?  Yes, but let me explain.  I have two birthdays a year.  Since I follow both the lunar and the solar calendar and I was born on Rosh Chodesh Sivan (yesterday) which was 23 May (today) hence the celebration continues.  Having two birthdays each year means that today I am celebrating my 136th birthday.  Here is my birthday cake:

This reminds me of an incident that happened recently at our synagogue.  It's a hot story (that is what reminded of it).  It was Shabbos and we wanted to give a particular guest an aliyah.

The Rabbi asked:  What is your name?
Guest:  Sarah bas Moshe
Rabbi:  No, what is your name?
Guest:  Sarah bas Moshe
Rabbi:  I don't understand.
Guest:  You see, we have had a lot of trouble in the family so we have put everything into my wife's name.

That, by the way, is absolutely not a true story.   

Humor has been found to have medical advantages.  Studies have shown that humor can actually spark the immune system.  You don't want to overdo it since nobody wants to really die laughing.  Expressions like "this guy kills me" should be saved for other occasions.

So where in the Talmud is this suggestion of humor as a way of teaching (I knew he was going to sneak in something from scriptures).  Judah the Prince, who went under the title Rebbe would lighten the atmosphere by starting a class with a joke (Shabbos 30b).  I was just thinking since it is a popular title to call the Rabbi in a Hebrew school or Yeshivah "Rebbe," does that mean, since I teach on the internet, I am a "Webbe?"  That should be very impressive on my résumé.  Let me resume (what a difference an accent makes).

Although we should serve Hashem with joy and that includes having a happy life, we are also warned in the Talmud (Pesachim 117a) about light-headedness, frivolity.  If our life is only for fun and not serving Hashem, we are missing an opportunity to excel and to help others.  Jews should not be practical jokers where embarrassment of even harm can come to someone.  The humor that I am talking about should serve a purpose such as helping to keep one's interest in teaching the word of Hashem.  Even to entertain children to make Yiddishkeit more enjoyable is a mitzvah.

There is a story of people using humor and getting the World to Come (Olam Haba)(Taanis 22a).  There were individuals who made people happy acting as clowns and were actually rewarded for their efforts.  I have mentioned numerous times that Hashem wants us to help each other.  If humor is the method available to help – to do something good for someone else – Hashem looks favorably upon those with the proper intensions.  Hashem also wants us to enjoy life.  Not just all the celebrations but our everyday routine.  As an example, if you are not studying Torah with joy, you are doing it incorrectly.  Shabbos and all our holidays are so enjoyable and so good for bring family members together that, once again, we thank Hashem for all He gives us.  Know that even the mitzvot are tools of happiness if done correctly.  You know the scenario for all Jewish holidays:  They tried to kill us; we won; let's eat.  That summarizes that.

You may ask: didn't you say this was part of a three day celebration (actually a four day celebration, the fourth day in early June)?  Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary, 3 Sivan.  My wife and I have been married 84 years (we celebrate both days on this occasion, also).  I was thinking this is a combination simcha and celebration.  Would that make it a simchabration (there goes the spell-check again)?

Funny thing, I have run out of time, in more ways than one.  I just wanted you to know that humor was another gift from Hashem to help us in our rectification in life.  It is not only just an effective teaching tool, it does make life much more enjoyable and I thank Hashem for a sense of humor.  I do want you to know that I also have a sense of serious (whatever that means).  I consider myself more of a sit-down comic – it's hard to type while standing.

You will notice that this post avoided politics which is not too humorous a subject in this day and age.  You know the definition of politics.  Let's break it down.  "Poly" means many and "tics" are blood-sucking creatures.  Isn't it amazing what you can learn on the web?

Have a happy day!!!!! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This Week's Schedule

Today is Rosh Chodesh Sivan.  So what is coming up this week of importance?  Well, on this day 3324 years ago we arrived at Mount Sinai.  We got settle in – getting ready for the most exciting day in history – the receiving of the Torah.

When we were in Egypt and Moses told Pharaoh that he wanted to take the Israelites into the desert for three days, per Hashem's instructions.  Was Moses lying, trying to trick Pharaoh into letting his people go?  Not at all.  Hashem told Moses to take the Israelites into the desert where they will prepare for three days.  Even though Pharaoh misunderstood these three days of being in the desert, Moses was aware that they were not told which three days Hashem was referring to.  We became aware after arriving at Mount Sinai that Hashem was informing everyone that starting on the third of Sivan there would be three days of preparation leading up to the greatest event in history.  These were days of purification, praying, repentance, soul searching, meditation, asking forgiveness, etc, etc, etc.  We needed to become as spiritual as possible and find a way to suppress our physical presence.  After all, we were getting ready to experience our Creator and receive His Word.

So starting the day after tomorrow we should begin our preparation to receive the Torah (actually we can start right now or try to increase our preparation if we already prepare on a daily basis).  Wait a minute, didn't we already receive the Torah 3324 years ago and are only commemorating the anniversary on the sixth of Sivan, the holiday of Shavuot?  Shavuot has more significance than remembering, it is a time that we prepare to receive the Torah all over again, every year.  Our most important mission is learning Torah and living that which we have learned.  We are excited about the fact that we are entering another year of learning Torah.  In other words, the excitement of Shavuot is not just what happened in the past but what is about to happen.  We are psyching ourselves up to receive all the new Torah that we will learn in the coming year.

A very important thing happened before we received the Torah.  Collectively, we said as a nation "na'aseh v'nishma," "We will do and we will hear" (Exodus 24:8).  Hashem wanted to verify that we truly were the people to bring His message to the world.  The Torah was offered to other nations before the Jewish people.  One nation questioned "What is in this Torah?"  When told "don't steal," this people rejected the Torah stating that theft was necessary within their lives.  When another group was offered the Torah, they questioned "What is in this Torah?"  When told "don't kill," this people rejected the Torah stating that killing was needed for their survival (I am leaving out who these nations were on purpose – they still exist today).  Only the Jews accepted the Torah stating that they will do as Hashem commanded and then after they will question what these commandments mean and will study them.  In other words, with complete faith in Hashem as their Father in Heaven, we will obey and learn.  We are not without curiosity as to the deeper meaning of the mitzvot and Hashem wants us to satisfy our curiosity by looking at deeper meanings.  The results of studying are always to show love to Hashem by giving us more desire to serve Him and serve Him correctly.  Our intensions have always had high merit which is why Hashem chose us to be the bearer of His message.  

Another very important message that we conveyed to Hashem with "na'aseh v'nishma," is that we talk in the plural.  We did not say "I will do and I will hear."  I have mentioned many times that Hashem wants us to help each other and even be responsible for each other.  It is very easy as an individual to say "I'm in good shape – things are pretty good for me, let the other guy take care of himself."  It is not the Jewish way and not the lesson of Torah.  Even today if we don't help each other we are really sinning.  Yes, we are judged as individuals, measure-for-measure; but, a big part of our test on Earth which affords us a way to succeed in that test, is our desire to give rather than receive. 

As an American I used to take pride in the fact that I had rights.  Under the constitution I had the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I had the right to sing the blues and the right to wear blue suede shoes (I'm sorry I don't remember all my wonderful rights).  When I became observant I realized that I was put on this Earth not with rights but with obligations.  There is a big difference between believing that I had the right to have my property protected versus I have the obligation to protect the property of others.  When everyone in a society believes the world owes them a living that society can't succeed.  America succeeded not because of rights but because of its Biblical foundation which did advocate people helping people.  We see a big decline in the world morality these days since greed has become the rule of the day and everyone for himself the psyche of the people.   The good news is this was meant to happen in the end of days.  When the Messiah takes over and everyone turns to Hashem for leadership, all will be as it should be according to His Torah.

One of the biggest changes that occurred in my life when I became observant was that I found that I was learning something new and exciting every day.   I got up every morning wondering: what will it be today?  What new Torah will I discover today that will change me, enlighten me, improve me and gladden me?  The most interesting thing about this new positive approach to starting my day is after 20 years, it continues and hasn't diminished.  It was not the excitement of being a new Ba'al Teshuvah (one who has returned to Hashem's ways), but was the start of something that only gets better every day.  I wake up about 2 to 3 AM every morning – not because I have to, but because I want to.  The amount of Torah to be learned, or should I say, that I want to cover would take 10 lifetimes just to scratch the surface.  Making every day count and even wanting the day to be longer by starting earlier is actually a joy to me not a burden.  Most people have no idea what true happiness can be.  I have to admit, if you told me 30 years ago that I would find happiness in getting up that early to discover something new and exciting about this world and this life, after I stopped laughing (you know the rest).  One of the most exciting things that happens every day to me is seeing what is occurring in the world and knowing that it is a message from Hashem and a further indication that the time of the redemption and the Messiah are upon us.  It doesn't get much more exciting than that.  One may say that my favourite hobby is comparing the Bible, Zohar, Talmud, Rabbinical commentary, etc to our world of today.  Hashem let us know in advance what to look for and I love finding it.

I know that this will be the most special Shavuot that we will ever experience since we were at Mount Sinai.  Enjoy and do your best preparation for the occasion ever – not as an individual but with others – you won't regret it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Darwin Nonsense

150 years ago Chuck Darwin wrote a book about his THEORY that Hashem doesn't exist and that everything is here, including all living things, by accident.   You may not think that was his actual purpose but knowing his colleagues that supported his effort and the popularity that he would gain from such an undertaking, I believe it was his foremost motive.  He came up with such wonderful expressions as natural selection, meaning that nature has some way to just, out of necessity, design itself.  With the help of mutations that occur in nature, all the species of plants, animals and even human beings just happened.  Chuck stated that after about 100 years of gathering fossils, scientists would be able to document the links between the species proving the evolutionary pattern.  He also stated that he can explain everything except the eye.  The eye was way too complicated and sophisticated to have possibly evolved by natural selection.

Well, here it is 150 years later and the only thing that has been proven is how stupid scientists, governments and the education system can be.

Let's review what was proposed as a theory and what has actually been proven.  First of all, it is so convenient that just about none of Chuck's theory can be proven.  To prove it evolved by accident instead of being created by a Source of infinite intelligence comes down to personal opinion – not scientific verification.   But, let's look at what Chuck told us to observe and what the outcome really was. 

He said:  After about 100 years of fossil collection, we will see the connection.  Well, after 150 years of fossil collection we have seen no connection.  Even worse is the total lack of necessary intermediate stages that were needed to complete the picture.  As an example, when did we go from cold blooded sea creatures to warm blooded land creatures?  Shouldn't we find million of years of intermediate species making the transition?  Another concern: when did we go from scales and fins to skin with hair?   Shouldn't we find million of years of intermediate species making the transition?  The biggest thing that was lacking was intelligence.

The entire concept of natural selection ran into a problem.  Paleontologists performed statistical analysis determining how long it would take for an organism to form and start to improve or redesign itself.  I am not talking about the trillions of parts to all plants, animals, insects, bacteria, humans, etc; they wanted to guestimate how long any one improvement would take.  The answer was anywhere from maybe 20 billion years to never.  Since the Earth is estimated to be 4.5 billion years, the whole concept of natural selection becomes unworkable.  Of course, there is a Dr Burke who theorized accelerated evolution.  Most scientist believe this theory to be far fetched.  I see it as a lame attempt at proving that evolution is not bogus.  To me it is like saying that an individual is very unhealthy because he is sick all the time or that an individual is very poor strictly because he doesn't have any money.  That explains it all.
But wait, we also have the process of mutation to enhance evolution.  One problem is mutation is basically a degrading reaction.  When two chemicals are mixed together and the resultant compound is a mutation, it means the reaction resulted in something less than what was available to begin with not something enhanced.  Mutation has the same effect on organisms and could never be used to explain evolved or improved results.

An interesting event that happens every day is that new species of plants, animals, bugs, etc. are found.  Biologists, botanists, mishagologists (I think I just made up a new species of scientist) scratch their heads not just because of new species, but that they don't even seem to have a forerunner that they may have evolved from.   What a new species that didn't show signs of evolution?  Hashem has a sense of humor – no doubt about it.

Darwin couldn't explain the eye.  Way too complicated for it being self-designed.  What would have been Chuck's reaction if he knew about the cell structure especially the computerized genetic code in the cells of every living organism?  I would hope he would have abandoned his nonsensical effort realizing there could be no truth to it.  I was an Engineer in industry for about 38 years and I never saw anything simple design itself let alone something of infinite complexity.  Does anyone realize that, to this day, we still, even with our great intelligence, have not been able to create life?   What the brilliant scientists have accomplished with amino acids is bearskins and knives compared to real life.  We may give a farmer complete credit for making apples but all that was done was to take a seed, that we are not able to create, put it in the ground and watch Hashem's miracle come to life.  Out of a piece of wood comes a beautiful red, juicy, delicious apple and that happened by accident?  Did you ever pay attention to an apple?  It is the size of our hands, it is attractive to the eye (only on the outside where the attractiveness is needed – the inside of the skin doesn't have the colorful advertising), it is very nutritious to the need of a human being – one a day keep the doctor away.  It is a very satisfying treat with just the right moisture, taste and appeal (you can even eat the peal).  The variety of apples is staggering meeting all kinds of taste and cooking requirements (even though the brilliant geneticists have eliminated many species for financial gain – more brilliance).  As an Engineer I am so impressed with the design of a single apple that to think that this happened by accident is lunacy.  

There are millions of examples of species that cannot be explained by natural selection.  I remember a particular bug that I heard about years ago (I don't remember the name -- I'm not a bugologist).  This bug protected itself by squirting two chemicals, that becomes very lethal when mixed, at its predator  and renders him non-functional (a polite way of saying he kills his enemies).  The two chemicals are in individual sacks within the bug and are both dangerous to the bug itself.  The bug, however, is protected by the design of the sacks.  I thought about how this sophisticated system could have evolved accidentally.  Maybe the bug himself went to a chemical store and purchased the two chemicals after getting advice from a PHD bug friend that he had.  If I am sounding silly, you are catching on.  I don't know if I could have engineered such a complicated system; let alone, envisioning this happening over millions or billions of years by accident.  Besides how did this species of bug survive until the final Research and Development stage had been completed and the lethal system went into operation?

One question is: what about all the human-like species that have been unearthed over in the past century?   Do they not fall into Chuckey's theory even if we can't find a definite connection?  It is brought down in scriptures that Moses was of the 1000th generation.  Since there were only 26 generations from Adam to Moses, we are told that there were 974 human-like generations before Adam but that they were not human beings – just human-like.  Since science hasn't found that many prehistoric beings, it looks like the handbook of the universe has the answer again that scientists needs to catch up to.  Science always seems to be lagging behind.  Of course, we cheated we read the book.  All the details about the 974 generations are extensive and may be handled in a future blog (I haven't decided yet.  If I didn't say this, the questions would have been many).  I believe that the Mitochondrial DNA that is common to all human beings did not appear in the first 974 generations meaning they are not our ancestors.  Minor point happily ignored by science and atheists.

You may get from all this that I have very little respect for Chuck Darwin.  I would say on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give a rating of about -245.  Sorry Charley (there's something fishy about that statement).  I never met him personally but I'm sure he was and still is a Hell of a guy.  I know that materialistic atheists, who hang onto his nonsense, are a Hell of a group.  I would stay away from them – their future is not too promising. 

What did Darwin do and why did he become so popular?  Darwin wrote a theory that explains everything without Hashem.  The atheists of his day made him an instant success.  But why should this bogus science continue to this day when everything said has been disproved or determined to be impossible to prove?  The basic answer is in my post of 28 March 2012 called Jew Hatred.  The people of the world are fighting Hashem.  They do not want His message and will resort to any fantasy to avoid the truth.  Why do the governments of many countries including the wonderful US of A insist that everything has to be done with a separation of church and state (I guess that means synagogue and state, also)?  To avoid the truth about this world even the education system in most countries have to avoid anything that may look like religion.  I think the motto of all public schools should be "Don't confuse me with the truth!!!" 

The biggest reason that I know that Darwin and his nonsensical theory is not worth the paper it was printed on is that it disagrees with Torah which I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is the absolute truth.  Any deviation from Torah on any point is a deviation from truth.  It is only fare to mention that there actually is an evolutionary pattern mentioned in scriptures, but under complete controlled of the Creator of everything.  Any mention of by accident is heresy and will get the individual a very unpleasant eternity.  This is not a good time in history to gamble with ones eternity – our day in court is not too far away and that could evolve into much suffering.  Stay with Hashem – stay with the truth; that is my natural selection.    

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Using Radiation to Cut and Cleave

The use of radiation in various cutting processes has expanded considerably in the past two decades, primarily due to recent tools that are extremely powerful and provide highly accurate and clean incisions.  Laser cutting tools, for instance, are used in a wide variety of applications; from diamond cutting to operating rooms.

Like electricity and any number of other natural forces, radiation appears in nature, although the way to harness it was discovered only recently, and is considered one of the most important discoveries in modern times.

It is fascinating to learn that thousands of years ago, the Sages knew from the Torah, of the existence of radiation and its ability to perform fine cutting and cleaving work. The Creator of the universe has revealed many of nature's secrets to the Jewish people, in order that they use such knowledge to fulfil the Divine commandments.

Furthermore, if those ancient Sages were among us today, they might well think that scientists are using roundabout, artificial means to produce radiation.  For the Sages were acquainted with the most original and direct radiation available in nature - the Shamir worm.

To understand this better, we must realize that the Sages needed to know about this mysterious natural force in order to build the First Holy Temple (Solomon's Temple) in Jerusalem, without the use of metal tools. Scripture tells us (Kings 1 6:7):

"For the house, during its construction, was built of stone made ready at the quarry; and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in construction."

Iron tools could not be utilized in the construction of the Temple, because iron was used in weapons of war.  It was inappropriate to use it to build the House of Peace - the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, where the Divine Presence resided in the material world, and which drew universal bounty into creation.

A far more limited use of the Shamir worm was by Moses, 400 years before the Temple was built.  Jewish tradition has it that the Shamir was used to inscribe the names of the twelve tribes on the two precious stones set into the shoulder straps of the High Priest's outer garment (the ephod) and on the twelve precious stones set into his breastplate (choshen mishpat).

This is what the Talmud has to say on the verse above, from Kings 1:2 "[King Solomon] said to the Sages, How shall I manage [without iron tools]?  They replied; there is the Shamir, which Moses brought for the stones of the ephod."

The Shamir worm had no sharp edges protruding from its body, or anything similar.  It cut and cleaved with a form of radiation that it emitted from its body.

The Talmud records how the worm was used to engrave the names on the stones of the ephod.

"We do not write upon these stones with ink, because the verse states [that the writing must be]: 'Like the engravings of a signet.' Nor can we engrave them with a knife because it states: 'in their settings' [i.e. the stones had to be placed in settings that remained whole, and a blade would have removed some of the material]. Rather, a person writes with ink upon them [as a template], shows the Shamir [the written strokes] from the outside, and they split of their own accord, like a fig which splits open in summer and nothing at all is lost, or like a valley which splits asunder in the rainy season and nothing at all is lost."

In other words, there was no need for the Shamir worm to actually touch the stones.  It was merely held above the pre-marked letters and they were engraved into the stones by a radiation emanating from the worm.

We will end this chapter on a final, amazing note. It is known that radioactive material must be stored in lead containers, for any other material would allow it to leak out.  How was the Shamir worm stored, since it incisive vision could penetrate even stone?  The Sages state:" "After the Temple was destroyed, the Shamir ceased to exist.  What was the nature of the Shamir?  It existed since the six days of creation. When placed upon a stone or a beam, they split apart like the pages of a book. When placed on iron, the metal broke apart and fell away.  Nothing could withstand it. How did they store it?  They wrapped in soft wool and placed it in a leaden box filled with barley bran".

One final note: Obviously, no attempt is being made here to establish exactly what type of radiation was emitted by the Shamir, because we have lost all further knowledge of this amazing worm and have no examples upon which to conduct researchIn view of the Sages' comments, we can say that it emitted a very unique type of radiation, with the ability to cut and cleave, similar to a laser, but which could only be stored in lead, similar to radioactive substances.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Continental Drift

Describing the act of creation, the Torah tells us: "And Hashem said: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.  And it was so" (Genesis 1:9).  This verse in the Torah refers to the creation of a solitary continent, which became visible only after the waters that covered the Earth's surface subsided.  In other words, at the beginning of creation, only a single vast ocean surrounded the only continent on Earth.

This description is in contrast with the precise picture we have of the earth today, with the oceans surrounding the seven continents: Eurasia, Africa, Australia, Greenland, North America, South America and Antarctica.

Amazingly, the Zohar (12:1) tells us about significant geological changes that took place on Earth after the initial period of creation: "One single continent came out of the water, and from it seven continents were formed."

Repeating the Biblical image, the Zohar states that at the time of creation, there was only one continent, which later broke up into seven separate continents, which slowly drew apart.  At that point, water flowed into the gaps between them to form the various oceans and seas.
On the same subject, the Book of Proverbs (9: 1) offers an enlightening verse: "Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out her seven pillars."  According to Rashi, the "house" in this verse is the world, which God built with wisdom.

By juxtaposing Rashi's explanation with the Zohar's comments above, we can better understand the second half of the verse: "she has hewn out her seven pillars." These are the seven continents, hewn asunder from the single, initial continent.

Of course, for centuries, scientists dismissed these Torah statements about the drastic geological changes that took place on Earth as baseless fable.  It was only just over 90 years ago that the world of science began to revise its opinions on the formation of the continents.  The first scientist to talk about continental drift was the German geologist, Alfred Lothar Wegener (1880-1930) in his book: The Origin of Continents and Oceans, first published in 1915.  As proof for his theory, Wegener pointed out the amazing similarities between the western coastline of the African continent and the eastern coastline of South America. Together, they look like two separated pieces in a giant jigsaw puzzle.  Further research indicated that at the points of the two continents' previous contact, there were similarities in the flora and fauna and in the geochemical structure of their minerals. Ever since Wegener's discovery, there has been extensive further research into this subject and current opinion overwhelmingly supports the theory of continental drift.

Let us have another look at these events: With the exception of the Creator of the universe, how could anyone have known, thousands of years ago, that at one time, all the continents were comprised in one vast land mass, which subsequently split apart and separated? Furthermore, two thousand years ago, before Europeans had discovered North and South America and Australia, how would men of science have reacted to the Zohar's statement that there are seven continents on planet Earth?

I guess, once again, they didn't look at the Handbook of the Universe.
Have a good Shabbos

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gravity and the Shape of the Earth

As is well known, many ancient peoples believed the Earth to be a broad, flat surface supported by immense, mythical creatures - such as four giant elephants standing on the back of an immense turtle, itself swimming in an infinitely large ocean.  Regardless of which animals were doing the work, ancient peoples believed that earthquakes occurred when one of these ungainly creatures moved.  The idea that the world was round was considered not only highly unlikely but ridiculously illogical.

 CAUTION:  This is just a representation and not an actual NASA photo taken from space.

It was only in a much later period that some Greek philosophers began to claim that the world was round. Even so, for many hundreds of years, the majority of humankind believed that the Earth was flat, or at best, dome-shaped.

After Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, while travelling west in search of a shortcut to India, many individuals became motivated to set out on similar voyages of discovery. More and more of these travellers came to the conclusion that the Earth was indeed round, in opposition the firmly held opinion of the masses.

Slowly but surely, though, increasing numbers of people began to understand that the Earth is indeed round.  Today, every schoolboy knows the truth, and has seen photographs from space of the spherical globe upon which we all live. Nowadays, the flat Earth theory, complete with supporting whales or elephants, evokes in us only a smile.  But we must remember that the only relevant evidence available to the ancient civilizations was what they saw in their immediate surroundings - the fields, the valleys, the endless ocean stretching out before them. They had no good reason to take the leap of the imagination required to think that the Earth was round. In addition, before Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) discovered the laws of gravity, there was no logical reason to suggest that the world populated by humans, animals and myriad objects was round.  How could creatures standing on the opposite side of the world, head down, not fall off the planet?!

 Once again, the Zohar,' written over 2,000 years ago has something to tell us on this subject. In this instance, it quotes a book written even earlier, by Rabbi Hamnuna Saba in Second Temple times:
"The entire world and those upon it, spin round in a circle like a ball,' both those at the bottom of the ball and those at the top.  All God's creatures, wherever they live on the different parts of the ball, look different (in color, in their features) because the air is different in each place, but they stand erect as all other human beings.
Therefore there are places in the world where, when some have light, others have darkness; when some have day, others have night.
There is a place in the world where the day is long and night is but a short time. It is written: 'I acknowledge You, for I am awesomely, wondrously fashioned,
wondrous are Your works and my soul knows it well' (Psalms 139:14).
And this secret has been passed on to men of wisdom - the wisdom of the Torah.

This short, incisive segment in the Zohar contains some very important pieces of information. Its author knew that:
  1. The world is shaped like a ball, and is not flat, as was then understood by humankind.
  2. The Earth is not fixed permanently in one place, but spins and turns on its own axis.
  3. Human beings live on both sides of the planet, top and bottom.
  4. Humans live on one side of the globe, with their feet on the ground,  in exactly the same way as they do on the other side.  This points to an understanding of the force of gravity (even though gravity was discovered by Newton a mere 300 years ago).
  5. When it is daytime in one half of the earth, it is night in the other and vice versa.
  6. There is a place where it is almost constantly light, and night-time is very short (such as the arctic regions, due to the angle of the Earth to the Sun).
Torah sages realized that the information at their disposal was not known to the scientists of their times and would seem strange to themif not bizarre.  Thusthe Zohar concludes that this information is a secret.  It also tells us that this information was not gathered through researchbut had been handed down to Torah sages over the generationswho declare: "And this secret has been passed on to men of wisdom the wisdom of the Torah."  The source of this knowledge is not naturalit is in the Torah.  It is brought down that Adam was shown the entire world and the fact that it was a ball.

A World Hanging in Space

As mentioned earlier, in the past people believed that the world was a flat surface supported by immense creatures, floating on an endless sea.  They imaged that the sky was the roof over the world and the stars were hanging in the space above the Earth like lamps in a vast hall. The floor of that hall was the world in which we live.  But what supports that roof?  The conclusion they reached was that there were four columns supporting it, one at each corner of the great "hall."  This theory might seem strange to us today, but was perfectly logical from the viewpoint of those ancient civilizations.  So far as they were concerned, the roof of such a vast hall had to be supported by something and one column at each corner was an excellent solution.
 Rashi similarly writes: "Blimah means without any foundation, because they stand in the air" (referring in this context to empty space).  How must the words of the Torah have sounded to people thousands of years ago, and how do they sound to us today?

What did the Torah say at the time?  In Jewish tradition, the following verse is considered to have been made with prophetic inspiration (as is true for all the other verses in the Bible):
"He suspends the Earth on nothingness." (Job 26:7) This means exactly what it says - there were no supports. Rabbis David and Yechie1 Altshuler, father and son authors of the 18th century Scriptural commentary, Metzudat Zion, explain that the Hebrew word for nothingness - blimah - is comprised of two syllables - bli and mah, which in this form mean, "without anything."

This was another example of how the people who did not open the "Handbook of the Universe" were so uninformed; while those who have and study Torah have and live by the Absolute Truth (love that expression).