4 posts categorized "Talmudic Wisdom"

Powerlifting for the Mind

KB and Gemara
Power-lifting? That's lifting heavy weights, what trainers call "resistance training". What could possibly be power-lifting for the mind?

Pick up a Gemara. Nothing in the world will build your brain muscle like a Gemara. And it's the toughest form of resistance training too - wait till you see the resistance that you get from the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) the minute you decide to pick up a Gemara.

I invite you to visit an old age home in the ultra-Orthodox areas of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. Don't be alarmed when you walk into the Bet Midrash (study hall, which every Charedi old age home has), and you'll find two spry nonagenarians animatedly waving their hands in the air, banging on the table and yelling at each other while arguing a point in Talmudic logic and debate. There's no one here with Alzheimer's - these old gents have been doing resistance training for their brains all their lives. Maybe many of their body functions are limited, but they suffer no atrophy of the mind. Their brains work hard.

The Koreans have always been pioneers in fitness. It's no surprise that the Talmud (Mishna and Gemara) has become a smash bestseller in Korea. The Koreans too want to strengthen their brains... 

How is it that Alzheimer's is so rare in the Torah world? While 11% of the general population in the USA over age 65, and 32% of the population over the age of 85 suffers from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, the estimated numbers are less than a tenth of that among Torah scholars. Take for example Rabbi Leib Steinman shlit'a, one of this generation's greatest spiritual leaders - he's past 100 and his mind is still razor sharp. So were the minds of Rabbi Vosner and Rabbi Elyashiv, of sacred and blessed memories, who left us in recent years, both well over 100 years old.

What is it about the Gemara that strengthens the mind so much? First of all, it's Divine nutrition for the brain as opposed to the passive junk-food that most people feed their brains today. Second, understanding the Gemara requires conscious, sustained mental effort - it does for the brain what an HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout does for the body. Even when a person gets up from his Gemara session, his mind is still contempleting what he learned, just like the afterburn effect of a good workout. Third, learning with a chavruta (learning partner) forces the Gemara learner to be alert, attentive and mentally sharp. There's no boredom here. In fact, chavruta-style learning is fantastic for those who are kinesthetic or audial learners, because of the back-and-forth give-and-take style of learning where it's OK to fly out of your chair, learn standing up or any way else you like.

Bottom line - for a strong mind, nothing beats a Gemara.


The Power of Understudy

The Gemara in tractate Berachot teaches that even if someone knows the entire oral and written Torahs by heart, but that hasn't done understudy under a true upright Torah scholar, the person remains inane. I therefore cherish every moment of understudy that Hashem enables me to do under my esteemed and beloved rabbi and mentor, Rabbi Shalom Arush shlit'a. During our recent trip to North America together, I spent a goldmine of time with my teacher; every word that comes out of his holy mouth, especially in his Torah learning and his giving advice to people, outshines a flawless 5-carat diamond. Here are a few photos that tell a small part of the story; enjoy them and have a wonderful Shabbat:

1 - Rav Arush and I leaving chilly Canada RSA LB Toronto

2 - Listening to pearls of wisdom before takeoff to our next destination Pearls of RSA wisdom

3 - Learning together in the Southern California morning air RSA LB LA

4 - Doing simultaneous translation of the Rav's emuna lesson in Las Vegas Translation booth LB

5- Rabbi Arush utilizing every moment of time - writing his newest book while waiting to be picked up from the airport RSA LAX


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.
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Moshe Rabbenu and NASA

So many people are worried that their sons prefer Torah study in Yeshiva to university. Be proud and happy, and please don't worry anymore. 

Hashem taught Moshe Rabbenu on Mount Sinai things that NASA is only discovering today, thanks to their advanced technological equipment. And, Moshe Rabbenu didn't have satellites 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.