48 posts categorized "Concepts in Judaism "

Piety with Good Sense

Chossid Tipesh

If you are a man, and your answer to the question in the above photo is "yes", and you consider yourself religious, then you better double-check your value system, because you're not synched with the Torah...

Yes, the hand you see in the above photo is the hand of a woman. And she's drowning, screaming for help with her last breaths. But you don't look at women, and you're shomer negia, so you certainly don't touch them...

The Gemara teaches that any "religious" person who ignores a drowning woman is a pious idiot. The Gemara also tells the story about another pious idiot who saw a baby drowning in a river, but he didn't jump in to save the baby because he wanted to fold up his tefillin first.

Hashem doesn't want pious idiots. The entire Torah is common sense and human decency. Saving lives overrides everything. Where do we learn this from? It's right in the Torah: Moses became the leader of the Jewish People not because he was so frum, but because he never ignored the needs of a fellow human. Blessings for a wonderful Shabbat, and if you're in the NYC area, we hope to see you in Monsey on Motzaei Shabbat.

Life After Death

Today, the Tenth of Teveth, is the yahrtzeit of Rebbe Natan of Breslev, osb'm. Why do we celebrate a yahrtzeit, the anniversary of a death?

Is life after death a Jewish concept? What awaits a person after the physical life? Is the "near death experience" (NDE) something substantiated in the Talmud and Zohar? With Hashem's help, today's lesson will answer these questions:

The Design Engineer

Design Engineer
Dear Rabbi Lazer,

How do you respond to someone who questions the relevancy of ancient Torah laws to modern day living, i.e. Laws of Kosher, The Sabbath, etc. All the best, You are doing great work, SL from Rockville, MD.

Dear SL,

Nobody doubts that the design engineer of Harley-Davidson knows what's better for a motorcycle engine than anyone else does. If you own a Harley, you're ridiculous not to heed every single clause of the owner's manual. Why? The head engineer wrote that manual; he designed the bike, and knows what's best for it. So if he says, change oil and spark plugs every so-many miles, you'd better listen, or else you won't get maximum performance from your machine.

The same goes for the soul...

Hashem - The Almighty - designed the human soul. If you want maximum performance, you have to fulfill the recommendations of the owner's manual - that's the Torah. Since we are incapable of understanding the spiritual fiber of our own souls, we are also incapable of knowing what's good for the soul. Only the manufacturer - Hashem - knows what's good for the soul, and that's none other than the 613 ancient commandments mentioned in the Torah and elaborated upon in the Talmud and Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law).

Jews have a unique spiritual makeup - the neshama kedusha - that requires observance of 613 commandments. Otherwise, certain damages will be done to that highly delicate and ever so intricate soul. When a person fails to keep kosher for example, his or her soul acquires a coating of impurity that blocks out Divine light. A person who doesn't see or feel Divine light can forget about emuna and spirituality. Lack of spirituality manifests itself in bodily sicknesses, anger, anxiety, stress, and depression, just to name a few.

Yes, the laws are ancient, but so are our souls. The body lasts for 80 or 90 years if you're lucky, but the soul is eternal. We observe the ancient laws for the benefit of our souls, so that we can always be close to Hashem.

With blessings always, Lazer

A Dot: What's the big deal?

Dot com
Question of the Week:

Dear Rabbi,

Why does the Jewish religion seem to fuss over insignificant details? How much matza do we have to eat, which spoon did I use for milk and which for meat, what is the right way to tie my shoelaces? It seems to me that this misses the bigger picture by focusing on tiny trivia. Is this nitpicking what Jews call spirituality? I actually already sent you this question over a week ago and didn't receive a reply. Could it be that you have finally been asked a question that you can't answer?!  Signed, Rob

Dear Rob,

I never claimed to have all the answers. There are many questions that are beyond me. But it happens to be that I sent a reply the same day despite the fact that I'm now away from home on a rigorous speaking tour in the USA. The fact that you didn't receive it is itself the answer to your question. You see, I sent you a reply, but I wrote your email address leaving out the "dot" before the "com". I figured that you should still receive the email, because after all, it is only one little dot missing. I mean come on, it's not as if I wrote the wrong name or something drastic like that! Would anyone be so nitpicky as to differentiate between "yahoocom" and "yahoo.com"? No, it's not ridiculous. Because the dot is not just a dot. It represents something. That dot has meaning far beyond the pixels on the screen that form it. To me it may seem insignificant, but that is simply due to my ignorance of the ways of the web. All I know is that with the dot, the message gets to the right destination; without it, the message is lost to oblivion.

Torah observance and mitzva fulfillment contain a world of symbolism. And every dot counts. When the mitzvot are performed with precision, a spiritual vibration is emailed throughout the universe, all the way to G-d's inbox. If you want to understand the symbolism of the dot, study cyber tech. If you want to understand the symbolism of Judaism, study Torah. Yours always, LB

G-d Despises Bullies

Bullies should be forewarned: King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3:15, "And G-d shall seek the pursued." In other words, Hashem will come to the aid of the bullied and punish the bully when he least expects it. Rabbenu Bachiya explains that this principle is so strong, that Hashem despise bullies so much, that if even a righteous person bullies an evil person, Hashem will come to the aid of the evil person and settle the score with the righteous person (see Rabbenu Bachiya on Vayikra 22:27).

Hashem loves compassion and kindness, yet hates bullying. True faith means loving what Hashem loves and depising what He despises. It is therefore a mitzva to despise bullies and to come to the aid of the bullied, no matter who they are and where they are.

Misconception of Moshiach

One of the world's biggest misconceptions is that once Moshiach comes, everything will be hunky-dory. People think that Moshiach will pay our bills, materially and spiritually. That's not so. You'll still have to pay what you owe to the credit-card companies. Contrary to the non-Jewish notion of a "savior" who is a divine or semi-divine individual who will atone for our sins, every person will still have to do complete teshuva on his own. Because of the non-Jewish distortion of the word "messiah", we Jews stick to the term "Moshiach". Once Moshiach comes, the truth will be so apparent that teshuva will be like breathing air, a basic life requirement. We'll still have to make our spiritual effort in prayer, Torah learning, mitzvah observance and character perfection.

The Hebrew word Moshiach means "anointed"; he is Hashem's anointed King of Israel just as Hashem commanded Samuel the Prophet to anoint King David. Moshiach will be a great leader on all levels - spiritually, militarily and politically. He will bring peace to the world and end strife among the nations, for he'll bring everyone back to Hashem. And, he's a regular mortal like you and me. He'll know how to swim, but he won't walk on the water.

So, you might ask, if Moshiach isn't going to pay my mortgage, relieve my financial ills and let me spend the days on the golf course, why should I pray for him to come? Why should I even believe in him? You'll get the answers to these questions during our shiur this coming Wednesday.

The Best of Both Worlds

Best of both Worlds

Judaism doesn't have monasteries, monks and nuns. We don't have Gurus in isolated mountain retreats, either. We marry and have children.

We don't sleep on beds of nails or flagellate ourselves. We enjoy our lives, every minute of the day.

Jewish law demands cleanliness and presentability, so we don't walk around in rags.

Those who truly adhere to Jewish Law eat well, dress in a dignified manner, exercise and guard both physical and spiritual health. We use every part of our body in the service of Hashem; that way, we uplift the physical aspect of ourselves and transform it into sublime spirituality. Our bodies are therefore subservient to our souls. How?

We cling to Hashem with emuna, pure and simple faith. Emuna overrides intellect. Why?

Intellect tells you to worry; emuna says there's no reason ever to worry. Intellect tells you to be sad; emuna says there's no reason ever to be sad.

Emuna is truly the best of both worlds.