22 posts categorized "Album of Inspiration"

Moshe Rabbenu and NASA

Secrets of the Universe

The ancient Greeks, believers of imbecilic idolatry and totally immersed in the pursuit of their lusts and bodily appetites, wanted us to be like them. When they conquered ancient Judea, they outlawed the learning of Torah, trying to force our people to learn in their academies. The Maccabees, who had no desire to relinquish their holiness or their supremacy of wisdom, fought back, despite the fact that over 90% of the Jewish population turned to Hellenism.

The struggle of Chanuka continues to this day. With the "teshuva" movement, so many people are worried that their sons prefer Torah study in Yeshiva to the pursuit of "Hellenistic" intellectual disciplines in university. Be proud and happy, dear parents, and please don't worry anymore. On the other hand, many people who were born into the Torah world succumb to outside propaganda and pressure, thinking that people in the universities know something that our sages of the Talmud didn't know. They'd be well-advised to begin taking their Torah-learning seriously. Here's why:

Hashem taught Moshe Rabbenu on Mount Sinai the secrets of the universe, including astronomy and astrophysics. NASA is over 3,300 years behind Moshe Rabbenu; thanks to their advanced technological equipment, they're only beginning to learn what Moshe Rabbenu knew way back then. And, Moshe Rabbenu didn't have satellites, astrophotography or atomic clocks - he didn't need them.

My wonderful friends and colleagues at Israel National News have made a beautiful sanctification of Hashem's name by comparing NASA's latest research on the lunar cycle to what our sages in Talmud have known for the past thousands of years:

The Talmud states that the lunar cycle spans ‘29.5 days and 793 fractions of an hour’. In Talmudic terms, the hour is divided into 1080 parts.

793/1080 = 0.734259 hours.

0.734259/24 = 0.03059 days.

29.5 days + 0.03059 days  =  29.53059 days for the moon to travel around Earth.

NASA Research concluded that the lunar cycle is 29.530588 days, two 1/1000ths of a second short of the Talmudic figure. More advanced research in Berlin came to a figure of 29.530589 days, only one thousandth of a second short of the Talmudic figure.

The Sinai tradition of the span of the lunar cycle is thus corroborated by figures reached via advanced satellites and atomic clocks.

Put down the astronomy book and start learning Tractate Rosh Hashana, the Rambam's laws of the new moon, and the Tiferet Yisroel's commentary on Mishnayot. If you're looking for a degree, go to university; if you're looking for wisdom, go to the Torah. Happy Chanuka!


Israel's Chanuka Message to the World: We're not Budging

We're not budging
It's ever so appropriate that the UN and the current regime in Washington show their true colors by denying our ancient rights to Jerusalem, Shilo and Hevron. Nothing's new under the sun, as King Solomon teaches us in Ecclesiastes. I won't answer them - Shimon Maccabee the son of Mattatyahu Cohen Hagadol Chashmonai and brother of Yehuda  Maccabee gave a most appropriate answer some 22oo years ago:

“We have not taken foreign territory or any alien property, but have occupied our ancestral heritage, for some time unjustly wrested from us by our enemies; now that we have a favorable opportunity, we are merely recovering our ancestral heritage” (Maccabees 1, 15:33-34).

We weathered the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Spanish Inquisition, the Nazis and the Communists. We're still here and they've all disappeared. It seems that the oppressors of today want to join them. They'll never learn. Meanwhile, we're not budging.


Maccabee - What's in a Name?

KB and Gemara
Happy Chanuka!

There are three known sources for name "Maccabee":

  1. Acronym of Hebrew phrase "Mi Kamocha B'elim A'donoi" (Exodus 15:11) - Who is like You among the gods, Hashem?
  2. Acronym of Mattathias's name "Mattatyahu Cohen ben Yochanan".
  3. The ancient Greek word for "mighty" or "hammer". 

In any event, the word "Maccabee" was embroidered on their flags as they went into battle. With that in mind, I choose above option #1 as the most plausible source of the term "Maccabee", although above option #2 could have become their family name. The Maccabees themselves certainly wouldn't have used a Greek term to nickname themselves, so I don't think that above option #3 is likely.

Mattathias the High Priest (Cohen Gadol) and his five sons Yehuda, Shimon, Yonatan, Yochanan and Elazar were all holy men and Torah scholars of the highest order. What's more, they had unshakable emuna. Sure, they were history's greatest fighters, but only their emuna enabled them to withstand such insurmountable odds. Eventually, Yehuda and Elazar were killed in battle, while Shimon, Yonatan and Yochanan were assassinated in politically motivated plots. What is history teaching us? While the might of the Maccabees didn't prevent their untimely deaths, the light of the Maccabees lives on to this day. What do we learn from this?

The kettlebells are great, but they're not enough. You need the Gemara too. May the light of Chanuka illuminate your home, amen!


Painless Self-Healing: Part 2, Refa'enu

Hashem Healer
Our daily liturgy contains a special prayer for health and healing that we say three times a day in the Shmona Esrei prayer. This particular blessing is named after its initial word Refa'enu, which means "heal us". The following is a translation of the blessing:

Heal us, Hashem, and we shall be healed, save us and we shall be saved, for You are our glory, and send a complete cure for all of our ills, [here you can insert all your private health requests, both for yourself and for others] for You are our Lord King faithful and merciful physician. Blessed are you, Hashem, physician of His people Israel's afflicted.

Rav Eliezer Burland shlit'a laughs cynically when he sees people racing through their prayers to go stand in line in some clinic or outpatient center waiting to see a doctor who is neither faithful, merciful, nor capable of curing. Rav Burland says, "If you spend two minutes saying 'Refa'enu' with intent and composure, then you'll save hours standing in line in Kupat Holim (public clinics - LB) and in doctor's offices."

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that a person's main efforts in overcoming an affliction should focus on prayer. Refa'enu is not only a blessing for the sick; it's a blessing for the healthy that want to stay that way. The next time you pray, say Refa'enu slowly, word by word, with composure and concerted intent.

Don't ever forget that the keys of life and death are in Hashem's hands only. Since Hashem is the physician of all flesh and Hashem cures sicknesses, one is much better advised to turn to Hashem rather than turning to anyone else. Do so while you're still healthy... 

But even if you're not well, remember that prayer achieves anything. Refa'enu in itself is enough to keep us healthy. If we really had emuna, we'd turn to Hashem and to Hashem only in earnest prayer, saying each word deliberately and with deep intent. Isn't your health worth an extra 2 minutes of prayer three times a day?

Some people ask why we close the above blessing with, "Blessed are you, Hashem, physician of His people Israel's afflicted." Is Hashem only the physician of Israel's afflicted? What about the other nations? Rav Shalom Arush shlit'a answered this probing question and explained that since Israel relies on prayer and emuna, then Hashem personally cures them in a supernatural manner, for if Israel relies on the supernatural (prayer and emuna), Hashem gives them back measure for measure and cures them miraculously beyond the limits of nature. But, as the other nations (and many Jews, unfortunately) rely on natural means with little or no belief in the supernatural powers of prayer and emuna, Hashem lets them fall into the hands of the doctors and "natural" cures.

By virtue of prayer and emuna, Hashem becomes one's personal physician. Isn't that worth reinforcing our emuna and our praying? You bet it is!

Sharon from LA asks: Granted that Hashem is the physician of all flesh, but why does he make people sick?

Great question! You'll find the answer in Chapter Three of "The Garden of Emuna".


The Seeing Heart

Seeing heart
People often interpret things the wrong way, for although their eyes can see, the heart doesn't properly comprehend what the eyes are seeing. Read all about it in The Seeing Heart, one of my feature articles in this week's new issue of Breslev Israel web magazine.

This week's Torah portion is Tetzave. Peer and social pressure are like a fiery furnace; how did Hanania, Mishael and Azaria react when they were sentenced to burn in the fiery furnace? For many people, social pressure is worse than a fiery furnace. How? Check out The Royal Garments

Also featured this week:

Rav Shalom Arush - Each Little Lamb

Dr. Zev Ballen - Positive Trait or Neurotic Counterpart                                                        

Racheli Reckles - Imitation Emuna

Jennifer Woodward - A Good Point

Howard Morton - Curing the End-of-Days Blues

Dovber Halevi - Death Before Defilement

Yael Karni - Transcendence

Enjoy, and have a fantastic new week!


Daily Centering

Time for Yourself
Here's something I picked up from a health-and-fitness coach's manual (the bold-letter emphases are mine):

"The very first way to combat stress is to have your clients begin the exercise of taking 10 minutes each day - to simply sit and center themselves with their thoughts. They can find a quiet room somewhere and as they do, they should simply clear their mind or let their thoughts take place and then release them. This is a form of meditation and it can do wonders for helping to restore central nervous system balance, reducing ongoing stress and helping them feel that much better on a day to day basis. If they can’t do this for 10 minutes – 5 minutes will suffice. Any amount of time done daily or as close to daily a possible will have a very positive influence on their stress levels."

I don't know how many other health-and-fitness coaches follow the teachings of Rebbe Nachman, but the author of the above manual is right on the money. If 10 minutes daily ("5 minutes will suffice") does so much good for a person's nervous system, stress levels and overall good feeling, then imagine what 60 minutes a day of secluded personal prayer accomplishes! This is quality time, alone with Hashem, where you collect your thoughts, clarify issues and simply recharge body and soul. I like to do my daily sessions while walking, especially somewhere secluded and beautiful where heart and soul open wide up. It's the key to self-composure, happiness and sanity. Try it - you'll love it.