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11 posts from September 2012

A non-renewable lease

Life in this world is like a fixed-term rented apartment with a non-renewable lease. When your time's up, you pack your bags and out you go.

In this world, all of us are renters. Hashem's the landlord, and he gives us our bodies as temporary shelters for the soul, so that we can accumulate the gems of Torah knowledge and good deeds that will be valuable to us in the next world.

As renters, we have to pay the rent. If we're smart, we happily fulfill our obligations before the landlord comes pounding on our door. If we don't pay our rent in this world, we pay a severe penalty in the next world.

Succoth reminds us that we all live in temporary quarters, and that we're all at the mercy of The Great Landlord. We have to express our sincere gratitude for every single day that He extends our lease; that's why we need to utilize every single minute for Torah and mitzvot, because we never know when the non-renewable lease terminates.

Ashdod_succas A glimpse at Lazer's neighborhood in Ashdod - During Succos, we all feel like temporary dwellers

Brody_succa A glimpse inside the Brody Succa

Big Beam blessings for a joyful Succot holiday!

The Lesson of the Sycamore

On Yom Kippur, Iran's Achmedinejad once again repeated his threat to annihilate Israel. Predictably, less than a handful of nations voiced other than perfunctory luke-warm objections. As the Gemara teaches us, we have no one to depend on but our Father in Heaven.

Most suitably, this week's Torah portion - Haazinu - warns that our only chance of survival in the Land of Israel is by clinging to our roots.

The Sycamore tree is a living example of what the Torah's talking about; join me for a 5-minute boost of emuna...

Have a wonderful Shabbat and joyous New Year 5773!

Fiddler Raises the Roof

Daniel Ahaviel is one of the Jewish world's top fiddlers; he's also our dear friend and spiritual brother. He's the one who plays the violin on our Judean Dream album. There's no one who can fiddle and dance like he can. Daniel lives and breathes the joy of serving Hashem. Rebbe Nachman teaches that you can't make teshuva if you're not happy, so we need to put smiles on our face before Yom Kippur, and not be sullen like some folks think. And by the way, Yiddishkeit is cool...

Spiritual Hygiene

The Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) is like an iceberg: The statutes that teach proper conduct in every facet of our lives are only a mere manifestation of deep spiritual causes and effects that transcend time, place, and matter. What you see is only a tiny portion of the spiritual benefits you get.

During the period between Rosh Hashana and Yom kippur - what we call the "Ten Days of Repentance" - we can do wonders in mitigating harsh judgments. This is a propitious time for prayer and self-improvement. All Hashem expects of us is that we're a tiny bit better today than we were yesterday.

If up until now, you weren't careful about washing your hands first thing in the morning, here's a great chance to perform an easy mitzva that could save your life, literally.

Jewish law dictates that you should wash your hands as soon as you wake up in the morning, pouring water three times alternately on each hand from a large cup, a minimum of approx. 150ml on each hand. The apparent reason for the hand washing is that one inadvertantly touches or scratches unclean parts of the body at night, and before saying G-d's name, the hands must be clean. Yet spiritually, the explanation is much deeper, as follows in a nutshell:

When you sleep at night, your soul leaves the body and enters upper spiritual realms. A body without a soul is tantamount to dead, even if the basic life forces continue functioning. When the soul leaves the body, as in the case of a dead person, the body is rendered ritually impure. Evil forces of the "Sitra Achra", or the dark side, easily control a person who is spiritually and ritually impure. That's why many people - especially Chassidim - put a pail with a large plastic or tin cup that holds a liter of water immediately beside their bed, so they can wash their hands even before taking their first step of the day, thus cleansing themselves from ritual impurity at their very first opportunity of the day. Why the hands? Spiritual impurity is especially concentrated in the fingertips, the point where the soul leaves the body.

One who harbors ritual impurity has difficulty believing in G-d or understanding the Torah, since ritual impurity acts as a barrier against Divine Illumination, thus preventing Divine light from reaching the soul. Only Divine light can nourish the soul. Therefore, an undernourished soul is easily vanquished by the animal urges of the body. The minute the body reigns, the person becomes a slave to base inclinations, and that's bad news, both in this world and in the next. You can study Kabbala day and night, but if you don't wash your hands in the morning, you're spiritually in the mud.

If you don't do so already, start washing your hands every morning, and within a week, you'll feel a marked change within yourself - LazerBeam guaranteed.