46 posts categorized "Concepts in Judaism "

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.

Israel and Ishmael, Order and Disorder

Aerial Photo North Gaza 2005
Hashem in His loving grace and amazing compassion has enabled me to understand the current conflict between Israel and Hamastan-Gaza by way of physics, and particularly thermodynamics. We know that the physical manifestations of creation reflect the underlying spiritual laws that the Creator in His omniscience instilled in creation. Whereas science concerns itself with the mechanics of events within nature, emuna concerns itself with the mechanics of events above nature.

Without confusing you with the laws of energy and thermodynamics, let's simplify: there are two opposing powers in molecular theory - the power that seeks order and the power that seeks disorder. These two powers always fight each other. The more that the power of order prevails, the more the world obtains "Gibbs Free Energy", which is more commonly known as "free enthalpy", or useful energy. The more that the power of disorder prevails, the greater the "entropy" or chaotic, unproductive energy in the world. We can now understand how the same nuclear energy can illuminate the world when its in the responsible hands of a nuclear power plant, or destroy the world when it becomes the entropic energy of a nuclear bomb detonation.

The Torah juxtaposes Israel and Ishmael. Without bogging us down with dozens of quotes, Israel is the world's "free enthalpy", or useful energy. Israel has given society everything from morals to medicine, from agriculture to zero illiteracy. Israel has sponsored and spearheaded agricultural, construction, educational and medical projects around the world. Here at home, we've made the desert bloom. Our children learn to read at age three. We are a nation that exports compassion, for caring about others is a trait that Jews have an endless reservoir of. Our Torah is a "tree of life" whose ways are all peaceful and pleasant. Israel uses its resources to educate and heal people; our concrete and metal go to building schools, hospitals and factories. Our faith is emuna, spreading the light of Hashem's love for every human.

On the other hand, Ishmael is the power of disorder and chaos, destructive energy. As the Torah says, his hands are on everybody - he can't live without a fight. His contribution to society is negative, for he destroys rather than builds. Other than jihad, his constant holy wars, he has no claim to fame. His money results from his natural resources - oil - which Hashem gave him as a reward for being circumcised. He has no technology or knowledge base of his own. His children learn cruelty from a young age, growing up with the burning desire to kill his rival, Israel; so much so, that he'll sacrifice his own family without blinking an eyelash to spill the blood of Israel, Heaven forbid. Ishmael uses its resources to kill his rivals; not only Jews, but his own people as he does in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Gaza and everywhere else he lives. His concrete and metal resources go to building terrorist tunnels; his kids don't need to read and write as long as they can wield a knife and operate an AK-47. His faith is Jihad, holy war, killing anyone who doesn't agree with his darkside murderous treachery that he calls a religion.

The above explains the war in Gaza. No, it's not Israel's war with the Gazans. This is a struggle between the useful energy of the world and the destructive energy of the world. Israel must overcome in order for this planet to be a decent place to dwell in. The French, Germans, British and Belgians can now understand why their homelands are becoming less and less tolerable as they are being taken over by the Ishmaelites.

For the ultimate good of mankind and this planet, may Hashem help us prevail, amen.

Understanding our Soul Correction and Reincarnation

Freeing Slave Mentality

Here're some important facts to ponder while preparing for Passover: King Solomon really hit it on the nail when he said that there's nothing new under the sun.

One can't understand his or her future if they don't understand their past. Sure, we're launching satellites and transplanting organs, but since we don't understand who we are and what we're doing on earth, we still have slave mentalities, as if we were still building the pyramids in the hot sun of the Egyptian desert.

I'll prove it to you, easily.

Rav Shalom Arush told me in the name of the Ariza'l that our generation is a reincarnation of the generation that left Egypt and wandered in the desert for 4o years, what's known in Hebrew as dor hamidbar. Look at the similarities:

1.  They followed the advice of the Erev Rav, the false self-destructing anti-emuna Jews, instead of the true spiritual leader. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of Jews today are making the same mistake

2. They pursued wealth and physical amenities instead of a faith-oriented lifestyle - they had their Golden Calf, and people today have plenty of them too, still worshipping money instead of Hashem

3. They cried and complained constantly, not realizing that Hashem was doing everything for their ultimate welfare. Sound familiar?

4. Despite the fact they were the sons of royalty, they maintained a slave mentality, thinking that the Egyptians were superior to them. How many today forsake emuna and tradition to be more "American" of "British"?

It doesn't matter what our particular vocation or career path is. We all must correct the above 4 points. If we do so on our own accord, we'll save ourselves a load of headaches. Emuna is the key to correcting all of the above four at once. The more we learn and spread emuna, the more we'll spare the world of the wars and natural disasters that our sages predicted for the generation that precedes Moshiach.

With emuna, we discard the slave mentality. May we all succeed in doing so soon, amen!