Song of Peace
The war between Israel and the terrorists in Gaza and Lebanon is viewed in the world in two different ways, reality and perception. For decades what has dominated opinions on the Israeli - Arab and Israeli-Terrorist wars has been the perception created by a completely distorted picture of the reality in the Middle East. This picture is an ugly but extremely effective propaganda. For the Arabs this propaganda is fantasy turned perceived reality which sells very well all over the world.
The ability to turn a nation constantly under relentless terror attacks into the bully is no doubt a real talent. Of course, many misinformed sympathetic news outlets around the world are a great help for the cause as well. As the Nazi propaganda master, Joseph Goebbels used to say, even the biggest lies can be accepted by the mass as truths if they are repeated long and often enough. It is called brainwashing.
That is why many around the world believe that Israel is an apartheid state who oppresses the Arab population almost to the point of enslavement. “Them Zionists” are extremely cruel killing Palestinian children, preventing Arabs from having fresh water, locking them in ghettos and violating any human rights laws in the book.”
While we certainly know better, millions around the world don't. The truth of course is the exact opposite of these ugly propaganda claims.
So what really happened two weeks ago that caused the riots in Jerusalem and around the country which was the excuse for the 4,300 Hamas missiles exploded in Israel?
As usual the Arabs claim that the Jews were trying to evict some peace loving Arabs from their legitimate homes in an Arab town called Sheikh Jarrah in which they have been living for generations in order to live there themselves.
This kind of act flies in the face of human rights. It sounds awful and it is. The Jordanians did exactly that when they forced the Jews of the Old City of Jerusalem who had been living there for hundreds of years to leave and then took possession of their homes. This actually happened to the family of our very own teacher, Morah Sima in 1948 when she was just a child. In this case, however, nothing can be further from the truth.
To begin with, the few homes in dispute are not in the Arab village of Sheikh Jarrah but a Jewish village called Shimon Ha-Tzadik (Simon the Righteous) which is situated at the outskirts of Sheikh Jarrah but not in it. The Jewish neighborhood, Simon the Righteous which has been in existence for more than 150 years was briefly captured in 1948 by the Jordanians and the Jewish population was chased away. It was recaptured by the Israelis in 1967 during the Six Day War.
During the Jordanian possession of the neighborhood a few Arab families squatted in the Jewish families’ properties and settled in their homes. They continued to live there while the legal battle over the property continued in courts for over three decades. At one point an agreement was reached and signed in which the properties would be recognized as Jewish properties and the Arab tenants would be allowed to continue staying in the properties as long as they paid rent and maintained the properties.
The Arabs then reneged on their obligation claiming that they did not sign the agreement nor do they recognize the Jewish ownership. They refused to pay rent. At that point the Israeli Supreme Court issued an eviction notice and the trouble began.
So what does all this have to do with 4,300 missiles exploding in Israel courtesy of Hamas? Nothing really.
Officially Hamas declared that they are helping their brethren, the Palestinians, in the struggle to wipe out the State of Israel from the map and starting that “process” by punishing Israel for oppressing the Palestinians by violating their human rights.
But the real story is much different. According to some Israeli generals, Iran, who is Hamas’ master and who tells Hamas exactly when to shoot, needed some valuable information about the true capabilities of the Iron Dome which protects Israel from incoming missiles. They needed to see how the entire Israeli defense system works against a barrage of thousands of missiles exploding in Israel in order to reevaluate their own strategy against Israel.
While Israelis were struggling to survive in bomb shelters for days at a time the Ayatollah and other leaders of Iran were sitting in their palaces enjoying the show, literally taking notes on the Israeli military and civilian reactions to the barrage, figuring out how to inflict more damage and casualties to Israelis in the next round of hostilities.
According to Israeli military analysis, 10% of the 4,300 missiles managed to sneak by the Iron Dome. That means 430 missiles got to their target in Israel. In the next round of hostilities Iran will most likely activate Hezbollah in Lebanon. This is a terror organization which possesses about 150,000 missiles.
If the Iron Dome maintains 90% effectiveness (which is not clear at all considering the huge number of missiles it will have to intercept) then at least 15,000 missiles, some with heavy explosive payload, will fall everywhere in Israel. This statistic is now well known to the Iranians who would no doubt try to improve the capabilities of their missiles to penetrate the Israeli Iron Dome courtesy of their terrorist friends in the area.
Let us all understand and remember what the Israelis are facing. Let us not pay attention to ugly Arab propaganda lies. Most importantly, let us all pray for G-D to watch over the state of Israel as He always does, keeping her strong and vibrant. And may G-D bless Israel and the entire Middle East with Peace.
Rabbi and Cantor Messages
Connection to Healing
There are three major Jewish events during this time of the year which we have observed this past month. They are not biblical or traditional holidays yet they are extremely important, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day for the fallen Israeli soldiers and Israel Independence Day.
For the nations of the world the memory of the Holocaust with all of its unthinkable horrors has tended to fade over the decades. For most of these nations the Holocaust is now nothing more than a terrible historical event that happened a long time ago - pass the salt, please.
The world is now too busy with new villains and new nations fiercely competing for economical hegemony and military control over others.
Not Us. At least not in Israel. This year as Holocaust Remembrance Day was commemorated April 8th, I watched some of the many memorial events throughout Israel that day. I was privileged to see the grandchildren and the great grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, either as proud soldiers, regular citizens or school children standing still for a moment of silence in the streets everywhere, in the busy highways, in army camps. It became very clear to anyone who listened to the speeches and watched the reactions of Israelis throughout the country that the eighty years that have passed since the early 40’s are but a day to the Israelis.
While the horrors of that time are not talked about or even mentioned on a regular basis they are nevertheless embedded deep in the Israeli psyche. If we understand this, we can see how these dark, forever fresh memories guide their determination to survive and prosper, giving them the courage and the fortitude to proudly create and maintain the most amazing country in the world.
As I am writing these words a week later after Holocaust Remembrance and a day after Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day for the soldiers, Israel is celebrating Yom Ha-atz-ma-ut, her 73rd year of independence. A free Jewish country that was born from the Jewish ashes of Europe. A country which is fighting for its survival day in and day out. No other country in the world faces the kind of danger that Israel is facing .These existential threats are the worst Israel has ever experienced since its War of Independence in 1948.
With literally hundreds of thousands of missiles pointing at her from Lebanon in the north, Syria in the east, Gaza in the west, the mighty Egyptian army and navy in the South and a powerful Iranian army with a huge arsenal of long range missiles, we are being targeted with a deep hatred.
While the IDF remains strong and is vigorously working on ways to protect itself, these challenges seem insurmountable, an impossible task. Israeli generals are of the opinion that it would still take years of technological improvements and breakthroughs as well as significantly increasing the IDF manpower, equipment as well as adopting new training and war tactics to meet such dangerous threats. And all these while dealing on a regular basis with terrorist attacks from Lebanon and Gaza extensively supported by Iran.
Israel needs us to be aware of this new reality of the Middle East. We need to make sure that the US remains on Israel's side and supports it unequivocally. Our beloved state of Israel will always overcome any existential threats and will always thrive and do amazing things for the betterment of the world.
So in this 73rd year of Israel’s independence as we continue to celebrate Jewish pride and achievements each day, I pray that G-D Almighty keeps Israel and the Jewish people everywhere safe and prosperous as has been promised. We have survived thousands of years. May it continue as G-D gives Israel the wisdom, the strength to overcome its many challenges.
Over the years we have been retelling the story of Passover as a saga of slaves running away from their cruel Egyptian masters, led by a charismatic divine-like leader, Moses. As we all know, Moses was sent by G-D to perform the seemingly impossible task of prying a whole nation of slaves from the clutches of a belligerent Egyptian tyrant ruler. He was to do that without an uprising or any kind of rebellion hostility.
This is of course a story of a nation that was created. G-D of Israel inflicts punishment on the Egyptians through Moses and his brother Aaron until finally the Pharaoh is forced to acquiesce and free the slaves. Under the leadership of Moses, G-D then leads the slaves through a very rough desert for forty years and in the process gives them the most fundamental human set of laws, which any healthy society needs in order to survive and even flourish. This part of the saga ends with the nation of Israel completely transformed into a well organized people with a strong belief in G-D and the Torah. They enter and conquer the land of Canaan, establishing their independent life there.
From a modern perspective the story is much more profound. It is the emergence of freedom and the ideas of liberty in the human mind. For the first time in history slavery is depicted as evil. Just like the Israelites in Egypt, men of all nations deserve to fulfill their basic human right to be free. While the Jewish people have been celebrating this emerging enlightenment of freedom for millennia, it is interesting to note the reaction of other ancient nations to the Israelites becoming free from slavery. This can be seen in the way other nations reacted to the song that Moses and the people of Israel sang to G-D after crossing the Sea of Reeds into freedom.
The nations’ reaction to this freedom song is similar and revealing. “The people hear, they trembled, Agony gripped the dwellers of Philistia. Now the clan of Edom dismayed. All tribes of Moab-trembling grips them” etc.
There was no appreciation of the amazing freedom gained by the people of Israel. On the contrary, the nations exhibit fear of a G-D who dares to change the nature of things, the way the world should be. After all, there are slaves in the world and they should stay slaves forever. Their suffering is of no consequence.
Passover's story is the bursting of the ideas of liberty and freedom into a belligerent, unwilling to change, primitive world. The Passover story of freedom is the gateway to all the amazing moral and human dignity laws of the Torah of Freedom and Justice.
These ideas were heroically preserved over the millennia by the Jews despite all the suffering we had to go through, only to be picked up thousands of years later as a foundation of the American constitution. Perhaps that is why the founding fathers found it necessary to inscribe in the liberty bell the eternal words from the Book of Leviticus 25:10 “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
As we now begin to emerge from the restraints we have experienced since last year’s Passover, may we have a deeper understanding and appreciation of freedom.
And may we all be together in person at next year's seder!
I always love setting a beautiful table for Shabbat and will often share it on facebook. The last tablescape I shared was the Shabbat after the inauguration. One of my dear friends replied, “the most peaceful Shabbat in four years.”
I know many would agree with these sentiments. But I don’t. And it has absolutely nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the true gift of Shabbat which allows us to transform into an inner state of peace no matter what is happening in the outside world.
Don’t get me wrong. I was truly happy my friend felt so peaceful. I am happy anytime someone feels peaceful as that energy goes out into the world affecting others. This is Judaism 101. It is part of our job as Jewish people and why we are here, to radiate out into the world that Light of Peace. We are to be a “ Light unto the Nations.”
I know that many people do not observe Shabbat. And Rabbi David and I don’t even observe it in the same way as we used to do. But there really is something so magical that happens when I light the candles and usher in Shabbat. There is an actual perceptible shift within. I can also feel the energy in the entire house shifting and as many people who visit us can attest to, our home already radiates a feeling of peace.
So what is it that causes this shift? Part of it is that we are connecting or tapping into what we can call the energy field of Shabbat which has been built up over the centuries of practice. With this connection from our intentions and rituals we are forming a sacred space for Shabbat angels to descend. Or another way to look at it is that we are activating the angelic energies of peace. But either way, yes, they really do join us.
We actually have so many gifts from our tradition, especially the mystical teachings from the Kabbalah, to transform into that uplifted state and live there.
In our upcoming class, “Soar Above and Beyond,” we will be learning how to use some of these gifts, including activating angelic energies on a daily basis.
I so hope you will join me!
May you have a peaceful Shabbat. The most peaceful one ever!
As the Jewish mid winter holiday of Tu B’Shvat approaching (Jan. 28th this year) memories are coming back of when I was a child in elementary school in Israel. The mood was always festive with exciting preparations being made for the holiday.
Tu B’Shvat was quite a big deal especially since we didn’t have regular classes. Instead there were ceremonies in a big park where singing and dancing teams from schools all around Tel Aviv competed for first place. The songs were always about the Jewish people returning back to our land to rebuild it. While most of us boys didn’t care about watching the performers the day outdoors away from books was always fun.
After the competitions we would be taken by bus to the outskirts of the city where the land was still barren. Each of us would be given a small plant. While planting was done according to the strict instructions of the teacher, getting our hands and clothes dirty was always the best part.
Looking back at this childhood memory I realize the significance of these Tu B’shvat events which we experienced throughout our school years.
Tu B’Shvat indeed is the expression of Jewish love and appreciation for Mother Earth. It is a reminder of how delicate and vulnerable Mother Earth really is. It is a reminder to reestablish ourselves as the custodians of this beautiful planet home and all of its inhabitants. Tu B’Shvat reminds us that we have a G-DLY mandate to oversee Earth but not to do with it as we wish. Earth is not a human playground to spoil.
But there is more. For we as Jews, Tu B’Shvat is the supreme expression of our connection to our land, all of the land.. . It is a reminder that the Jewish land of Israel is just as important as the Torah itself. G-D sanctified it and gave it to us centuries before he gave us the Torah. In fact a significant number of the Torah‘s laws are directly related to the land. This means that we cannot observe the Torah’s laws in full without the holy land of Israel.
TuB’Shvat is a yearly reminder that the Jewish people, the land of Israel and the people of Israel are one and the same.
Plant a Tree in Israel
People often ask us how Shirat Shalom started. The seeds of it actually began when Rabbi David and I were newly married over forty years ago and were teaching together in a Hebrew School. (Yes, our claim to fame is that we are still teaching Hebrew School together!) This happened to be a conservative synagogue with a wonderful community but we knew things could be much different especially when it came to the Hebrew School. So we promised each other that one day when we would have our own children they would have a different experience.
And we kept that promise. Our son who is now 37 received much of his Jewish education in a day school. With our daughter who is now 33, we began our own Hebrew School class of four children in our house. Before we knew it that little class began to grow and in 1998 became the basis for Shirat Shalom.
Now that we had a formal Hebrew School, Rabbi David named our program “Judaism of the Heart.” As part of that we would teach children to connect to their Divine Light.
Back then we didn’t really understand the significance of these ideas, “Judaism of the Heart” and “Connecting to our Divine Light.” We only knew deep within that we needed to bring these sacred teachings to the children. For Shirat Shalom as a congregation, the mission was to return to the spiritual and mystical roots of Judaism.
And this is what we have modeled and taught all these years on a level that can be easily understood. But now as we navigate through these chaotic times we know we need to share more deeply our tradition's sacred hidden teachings that are rooted in the Kabbalah.
✡Our sacred teachings that enable us to hold higher amounts of Divine Light thus overcoming anger, frustration, anxiety and despair and everything else that is of a lower consciousness.
✡Our sacred teachings that enable us to be partners with the Divine world helping us in every aspect of our lives, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
✡Our sacred teachings that enable us to bring change within ourselves, our loved ones and everyone around us just by holding and radiating these Higher Amounts of Light.
✡Our sacred teachings that help us all spiritually evolve to the next level.
Rabbi David often says, “What we have been doing clearly isn’t working.”
These teachings are our answer. And they can be for everyone, not just Jewish people. Are you ready to integrate them?
I so hope the answer is yes and you will join us in our virtual class, "Soar Above and Beyond." I will be facilitating the class and Rabbi David will holding the sacred space of the class. (Yes you will learn how to do that too!) Find our more here: Soar Above and Beyond!
With these four sessions you will have a new outlook and understanding of our sacred teachings. Most important you will have the tools to begin putting these teachings into practice as well as how to receive real help from the spiritual realms. We are also opening this class to teens.
The class meets virtually Tuesday evenings, 7:30 p.m. - 8:45 p.m. Feb. 9, 16, 23, March 9, Every class will be Recorded so you can still join if that time doesn’t work for you.
The price increases Wed. Jan. 20th so take advantage of the discounted price now!
Register Here: Soar Above and Beyond! Still not sure this is for you or your teen? Either Rabbi David or I will be happy to speak to you.
We started calling her the “Butterfly Girl” three and a half years ago when she was in third grade. She had just finished an Infinite Child Session so I took her into our backyard which all children love! The memory is still so deeply etched in my mind. As she walked through the entranceway onto the deck a swarm of butterflies came and began circling around her. There must have been at least 100 butterflies! I didn’t even know so many butterflies lived in my garden! Abby began dancing with them in utter delight making her own circle within theirs. I stood watching, mesmerized. It was as though time had stopped.
Each time Abby would visit our backyard over the next few years, the butterflies would once again come to visit their friend. I often wondered why the butterflies loved her so much and why this love was passed on through the generational lines of the butterflies. After all they don’t live very long, so it wasn’t the original butterflies who would come to greet her.
I know that a child’s energy field brightens from the Infinite Child sessions but other children who have gone through the program don’t attract the butterflies the way Abby does. I came to the conclusion it must be the Joy she always carries and emanates!
Abigail was supposed to have her Bat Mitzvah ceremony the first weekend of September but it needed to be postponed like so many other events these days. All the logistics were being worked out for a new date and location but then that needed to be postponed too. But Abby’s parents had no idea when this could be. You see their whole life had been turned upside down in just a matter of a few minutes.
Abby’s mother had to make a decision the night before that eventful morning of Sept. 21st. Would she return to school as a teacher or take a leave of absence? She discussed the situation with her father and decided at the last minute to take a leave of absence.
Even though she didn’t have to leave for work that next morning she still got up at her regular time. That was why she was able to smell the smoke. Her first thought was which of her three kids was burning something in the kitchen?
The smoke began coming fast and furious through the walls but being asleep her husband and children had no idea what was happening. It turned out the house had been struck by lightning. The fire inspector said ten minutes later the house would have burst into flames and it is doubtful anyone would have escaped.
It took weeks until they found a house they could rent. Even now they aren’t sure what will be in the future. The insurance company hasn’t even started work on the house which will take months to repair.
But within all this chaos and upheaval, Abby’s parents were determined she would have her Bat Mitzvah ceremony. It was finally scheduled for December 5th. A tent would be set up in the backyard of their rental home with chairs spaced out for the extended family.
Abby’s rehearsal a couple of weeks beforehand was held on the very deck where she danced with the butterflies. But this time instead of butterflies a humming bird appeared. And it came right when she was chanting from the Torah!
Rabbi David and I have lived in our house for over 26 years and have a myriad of wildlife in our backyard but we have never seen a hummingbird! I looked up in “Animal Speak” by Ted Andrews the spiritual message a humming bird brings: “It is a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible. It will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances.”
The weather the day of Abigail’s Bat Mitzvah couldn’t have been more beautiful. And the Joy that radiated from Abby’s family couldn’t have been brighter. As I closed my eyes for a moment I saw the image of the hummingbird. Yes, this family had truly found the miracle of joyful living from their life circumstances!
May we all learn to do the same!
Read About Abby's First Encounter with the Butterflies
Here is our Butterfly Girl Abigail on the day of her Bat Mitzvah
Rabbi & Cantor's Messages
Infinite Child Videos
Cantor Lee: When Tropical Storm Eta hammered South Florida the weekend after the election I felt as though I was in Noah’s Ark! We certainly have lived through plenty of tropical storms and hurricanes. In fact, two months after Rabbi David and I moved to Florida in the summer of 1992 we needed to evacuate from Miami due to Hurricane Andrew.
But Eta seemed different. After two days of non stop rain the water from our canal was the highest we had ever seen it over the past 26 years in our home! Even the tree trunks were submerged. I kept saying this is a major cleansing just as the biblical flood was . A major cleansing for all of us.
And no, this cleansing is absolutely NOT referring to the results of the election or the political leadership of the last four years. It is referring to the divisiveness in our country, in our communities, in our families. It is heaven crying out that we have forgotten to listen to each other's views rather than blame and call names.
This divisiveness has been an ongoing issue. I still remember in 2008 when Rabbi David gave a High Holy Day sermon about leadership in the Bible. Several people thought he was referring to the current political situation at that time with Sarah Palin and walked out. Ever since then, he makes sure to tell people that his sermons are not hidden political messages.
As Jewish people we have been given the responsibility to live at a higher consciousness, to be a Light in the world. Part of this responsibility means being extremely careful with what we say as each word we utter carries a vibratory energy that affects all of us. With the way this works, a derogatory insult can affect our children even if we are speaking about someone else!
Rabbi David: Ill speaking about anyone under any circumstances is called “Lashon Hara”, which translates as evil tongue. And this includes ridicule and insults. Our sages were very clear about it. Our demeaning language is like a boomerang that comes back at us by way of perpetuating hatred in our own hearts as well as going out to be part of the collective consciousness. When Miriam spoke against her Brother Moses G-d knew to nip it in the bud before her words contaminated others around her. She was given leprosy which required being isolated from the community.
In the political arena this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t express our views or take action with issues. But there is a difference with doing so without ridicule and insults. Of respecting that others can have differing political opinions.
So what can this cleansing do for us? I see it as a gift, a reminder to remember who we are. A reminder to go back to practicing it.
A year ago on Yom Kippur I made a vow with this very subject. I vowed to completely refrain from speaking Lashon Hara in the political or any other area, not even in a suggestive manner. Perhaps you will consider joining me.
We all need this cleansing reminder. Let us turn back into the compassionate Jewish nation that we have always been.
Our wonderful country well deserves it.
Cantor Lee: I was recently asked how G-d could be so cruel. This wasn’t the first time her family suffered greatly. In fact the woman had walked out on G-d for many years and only recently came back. But now again, she was so angry! It brought to mind Rabbi David’s Yom Kippur sermon from last year...
Rabbi David: Moses, as we all know, the holiest man, master of the prophets, led the Israelites through the desert for forty years. Along with the physical difficulties of desert life that the Israelites had had to endure, he also had to deal with constant complaints, and rebellions. He had to worry where to get water for more than two million people. .
But he had a dream. A dream which probably kept him strong and steadfast for 40 years. A dream to enter the Promised Land with his people.
But he was punished with the most severe punishment he could have possibly received. He died just when the Israelites were ready to enter the land of Israel.
What was his awful mistake that caused his life long dream after forty years of struggle shatter into pieces?
Well, G-D said to him, “In the desert on one occasion I asked you to talk to the rock so water would flow out of it. But you instead hit the rock with your staff.”
And for that Moses was not allowed to see his lifelong dream come to fruition? Scholars have struggled with this question from time immemorial
I don't know the answer. I don't think anyone will ever know for sure.
But maybe for a brief moment in that tense situation Moses wanted to make sure that water would indeed come out of the rock. And that just talking to the rock, asking the rock to produce water, wouldn’t be enough for the water to gush out of it.
Maybe for a brief second Moses doubted his own faith.
Recently I was sitting in a waiting room in the Boca hospital off of thirteenth street. A few people were sitting with me. Suddenly a man turned to me and asked, “Are you angry?” Surprised and a little confused by the question I finally answered, “I am not particularly angry.” “Well, I am!” he practically screamed. “I am angry at G-D! I am furious!”
I was not sure if this was the time and place to begin a philosophical conversation about G-D or life and death. And why did he turn me, a complete stranger, in the first place? Certainly he didn’t know who I was.
“I am mad at him! I am furious!” he insisted. “Does he even listen to our prayers? Does he even care? Does he even exist?”
The man proceeded to tell me about this wife who was stricken with several kinds of cancer and was now fighting for her life. There was so much agony in his words.
After a brief silence he continued with tearing eyes and said quietly, “She has no chance to survive. I don’t even know why the doctor is sending her for another another cat scan.”
He continued, “You know, she is such an amazing person. Such a good sweet soul who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Why her? Why make her suffer so much?”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not usually approached by strangers in public places with such agonizing issues of life and death. Maybe he approached me because he saw my Kippah and wanted to talk to a fellow Jew.
Knowing that there really weren’t adequate words of wisdom to sooth his tormented soul, I said, “I don’t have an answer for you. I don't understand it myself.”
He continued as if he didn’t hear my response. “I was diagnosed with lung cancer. But you know what? I don’t care about me at all. But why her? Such a beautiful soul. I just want some kind of sign! Something! Even the smallest thing that shows me that he exists, that he listens, that he cares, that makes some sense. I just want a sign!”
I put on my rabbinical hat and said, “I know it is hard to hear but maybe we should consider that which does not make sense to us.”
He looked at me puzzled. I continued. “Maybe the struggle itself to make sense of that which makes no sense is what we are all about. Maybe that struggle with the unexplainable, the struggle with so much suffering of your wife and yourself, which is so unfair, is our strongest expression of our belief in G-D.”
“Who knows, ”I continued. “ As strange and unfair as it sounds perhaps G-D is communicating through you and your wife to remind us all how vulnerable we are and how precious life really is. Maybe you are the chosen messenger for everyone.”
He listened and then said, “I give him back this dubious honor. I don’t want it. My wife and I are no messengers. Let him take it back if he even exists or cares.”
I answered, “You need your faith, sir. It’s a powerful gift and can help us get through the toughest of times.” He looked at me. “Are you a rabbi or something?” Seeing my cover was exposed I said, “May G-D send you a your wife a Refua Shleima, full recovery and may He give both of you the spiritual and physical strength to get through such tough times.”
At this point we were already beginning to attract the attention of people around us who were now listening to our conversation. We both became silent when his wife was wheeled into the waiting room. He thanked me for listening to him and they both left.
As I was driving home, I remembered a story I heard from Elie Wiesel of blessed memory. He was describing a scene that happened in Auschwitz. A group of Jews barely alive, starving and weak decided to put G-D on trial. They appointed a prosecutor, defense attorney and judge.
At the end of the trial, the judge read the verdict. G-D was found guilty of abandoning his people. There was silence among the people. Finally someone said, “Well, fellows, it is time to pray mincha, the afternoon service.”
What unwavering faith…
As I was driving I also recalled the pogroms, the persecutions, the endless suffering of Jews in Europe and the Middle East. And yet, none of it has ever shaken their faith in G-D and the belief of the coming of the Messiah.
One of the most profound songs of the Jewish Underground during the Holocaust was “Ani Ma’amim” “I Believe” which quotes the thirteen Jewish principles of the Rambam, the great Jewish scholar and rabbi. It says, “I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah and even though he is delayed I nevertheless will wait for him everyday until he comes.”
Maybe with that rock episode back in the desert, G-D saw the hitting of the rock by Moses instead of talking to it as losing faith and therefore trust in G-D even if just for a few seconds. Maybe this wasn’t about punishment at all but G-d using Moses as the messenger for us, to remind us of the importance of our faith and trust.
There is a saying in Hebrew that “a man can be more fragile than glass and tougher than steel.” Faith, no doubt, is the divine gift given to us to give our spirit the strength of steel, even to the point that nothing can break it. We can then navigate our lives during times of vulnerability and turbulence.
And most importantly, faith brings about Hope another tool in our spiritual toolbox.
One of the best stories that demonstrates this isn’t even Jewish, it’s Greek, the famous story of Pandora’s box. After being told not to open the box she was given, Pandora could not overcome her curiosity. As the box was opened ugly little creatures representing all the diseases and suffering flew right into our world. Pandora closed the box quickly but it was too late.
As she sat on the closed box dismayed, a faint voice asked her to open the box one more time. At first she refused but eventually opened the box. And a beautiful little creature flew out. It was Hope, given to mankind to strengthen our spirit.
In this time of uncertainty, of division among people even more pronounced, it seems the Answer is to return to our Jewish spiritual roots and become the Messengers of Faith and Hope. Only then can we create a World of Peace, Prosperity and Harmony.
A pioneer in the field of energy medicine, Donna Eden, tells a story of a man who would stand in the back of the room during some of her seminars. He hadn’t registered but she just allowed him to be there suspecting he was homeless. He looked unwell.
When she had a chance to speak to him she learned that he subsisted on food scraps from the local 7-11 store. Donna urged him to begin to eat more nutritious foods to improve his health but he didn’t have the resources. So she told him to begin speaking to his food. To thank it for bringing him excellent nutrition, that it was such healthy food, that he was so grateful for it, bless it. You get the idea.
She saw him a few weeks later and couldn’t believe the difference in how he looked on the outside as well as the inner flow of his energy which she could see. He went on to take further steps to improve his health and life.
In Judaism we are taught to always say a blessing before eating. I can just hear Rabbi David now, “Make sure they know we don’t bless the food, we bless G-d for providing the food!” Yes, in the Hebrew that is exactly what it says, Blessed are You Adonai, Ruler of the World, for creating all kinds of foods. Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam boray meenay mi’zonot.
Before eating I usually prefer to use the traditional Hebrew blessing as I know how powerful it is. But there are times that I just send Light to the food, thank it directly or bless it for providing me with such good nutrition. Just as Donna Eden advised the homeless man to do, I speak to my food!
During the holiday of Sukkot when we express our gratitude for G-d's bounty we are filled with Joy! I personally think the Joy is the way G-d is expressing His/Her gratitude back to us! So inside the sukkah when we eat the delicious fruit waiting for us we will be saying the traditional blessing, Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Haolam, Boray pre ha-eitz. Blessed are You Adonai, our G-d, Ruler of the World, who creates fruit from the tree.
It is so amazing how much better everything tastes with a blessing beforehand!
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