Monday, March 20, 2006

Thought of the Week- Parashat Ki Tisah

In this weeks Torah portion it talks about the construction of the Kiyor (faucet). The Kiyor was made out of copper and was the only copperware in the Beis Hamikdash.

There is a special reason to this.

The Kiyor was placed in the Chatzer (yard.) It was the first thing the Kohanim (priests) would have to encounter. As they came into the Beis Hamikdash they had to wash their hands and feet by this Kiyor. This was to remind them that they were to serve on their Israelite brothers behalf.
This is told to us because one might wander... I am commanded 613 commandments! How am I supposed to keep them all? If some are specificaly for the Kohanim then there is no way I could ever have the chance to do this commandment. Therefore G-d says that the Kohanim would do their priestly jobs with the intent as though the regular Israelite is doing the Mitzvah.

Hence, they would look at the copper Kiyor. For as we know that out of gold, silver, and copper the only one that acts as a mirror or reflects an image is copper. Therefore the Kohanim would look at the Kiyor and see a reflection of themselves. This would cause them to remember that they are here as the Israelites representatives, and that they must include the jews in their services.

This is also the reason why they have to clean their hands and feet, besides for the holification laws encripted in the Talmud and Kabbalah. It is also as a sign that they are connected to the Jews. Just as their feet connect them to the ground and just as hands can connect one to another, they are so too connected to the Jews.

From this we must learn the importance of supporting Torah scholars and that the Torah scholars and students are serving G-d on our behalf as well. It is written in regards to Torah students that they bring piece and tranquility into the world.

Another thing we learn from the Kiyor is that it was made of copper, the cheapest of all. This is in order to teach us that helping a friend can be done in any way. Even a simple 'hello' or even a smile can change his day, or at least impact it in some way.

Remember it doesn't take much to just smile at a person! In fact, scientificaly you use up less muscles when you smile then when you keep a straight face! So... what are you waiting for? Smile!!

As the Rebbe, Reb M. M. Schneersohn once said. "The only thing that will bring Messia in our days is with acts of goodness and kindness."

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. But a smile a day keeps the evil away!!!

©: Thought of the week - Yermi Kurkus

Derived from the Talmud and from the teachings of Rebbe M.M. Schneersohn.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thought of the Week- Parshas Tetzaveh

Parshas Tetzaveh

This weeks portion is Tetzaveh. It talks about how G-d commanded Moses to command the Jews to fulfill certain commandments even if they don't understand their meanings or the reasons as to why they ought to follow those commands.

There are several type of commandments.
One is called a "Mishpat" (lit. Law.) This is a commandment that people would have normaly figured out on their own. (E.g. Not to kill. If no laws had been given, people would use their common sense to see that it is wrong to kill. Or to steal. It is common sense that one mustn't take things that do not belong to them. So to conclude, it is the laws that make sense and can be explained in a logical manner.)
Second is "Chok" or "Gzeira" (lit. decree). This is a command that has no logic. It is something that we as human beings can not, and will not understand within our life-time. An example of this mitzvah would be the commandment of atonment with the Red Calf, or the commandment not to mix Linen and Wool in clothing, (Shatnez.)
The third one is "Tzivuy" (lit. Commandment). This is considered the most special, for it is a commandment that we would never think about on our own, however when it is given to us we can understand the meaning. For example Shabbat. Most people when they hear about Shabbat it is a logical thing. It would seem like a Mishpat. It is logical to take a break at the end of a long week to refresh for the next week. However in reality it is not a Mishpat, for people would not think of it on their own. On the contrary, if you look at all those people who have never had a connection to Judaism or has never heard of religion. These people are those who work and work and work. They dont think of having a weekly break. It just doesn't come to their heads.
This is what connects the two together. It is a commandment that is Chok (for we would not think of it ourselfs) however it is also a Mishpat because once we follow this commandment we can see how logical it is.

The Rebbe M.M. Schneerson explains this connection in an extra ordinary way.

The Hebrew root word for Tzivuy is 'Tzavta.' This means 'connecting' (Tzavta Vechibur - Bonding and connection.) The way to bind and connect to G-d is through His commandments.
Tzivuy is also the one which binds the two other types of Mizvoth. One should not kill or steal not because it's not humane or right. Every one knows that he shouldn't kill or steal. Even the non jewish courts have such a policy we don't need the Torah to tell us this types of Mitvoth. However because of the fact that it is written in the Torah as a commandment, not doing these inhumane acts in fact will connect a person to G-d.

Once a Gentile came to Shamai in his Yeshiva. He told him that if Shamai was able to tell him the whole Torah whilst he was standing upon one foot he would become Jewish. Shamai looked at him and laughed. "You want me to teach you the whole Torah whilst you are standing on one foot? Learning the entire Torah can take many months and even years! Especially since you don't even know how to read the Aleph Beis" He became infuriated thinking that the gentile had came to just laugh at the Jews and sent him away. Not giving up too quickly the gentile went to Hillel in his yeshiva and asked the same question. Hillel smiled at him and said, "Love your fellow man just as yourself. That is the whole entire Torah, and now there are things that follow it. We can go and sit down to learn in detail what exactly is entitled to 'Love your fellow man as yourself.'"

Rabbi Akiva says that this is the biggest Mitzva, and most general one in the entire Torah. Hillel added that all the other Mitzvoth stem out of this one.

One may ask what in heavens name does eating Kosher have anything to do with loving ones fellow man as yourself?
The reply is simple and reversed psychological.
What exatly is Ahavat Yisroel (loving ones fellow as yourself)?

Lets take eating Kosher for example:

Do you care if someone else eats Kosher or not? If ones religious or not?

Why should you bother? First take care of yourself make sure that you are doing all that is written in the Torah. When your done with that, then maybe you will be able to convince someone else to eat kosher or keep mitzvoth.

However this is the wrong way of thinking. It is true to say 'how can you tell someone else to keep mitzvoth when you yourself are not.' But at the same time that you start, you can always care for the other makeing sure he has Kosher food in his plate. One should assist the other in doing mitzvoth. He shouldn't tell him or command him this is not his place, but he may suggest 'help in doing the Mitzvah.' No Jew is too non-religious not to do it. Every Mitzvah that a Jew does connects him to G-d.

However an interesting question comes up:

How do we know that we are connected to G-d? And why is Ahavat Yisroel specificaly the main Mitzvah and not any other thing such as prayer or learning?

The answer is.
Through loving ones fellow as himself, one will see how he must feel towards G-d. Just like one is so connected to oneself, that is how one should strive to feel connected to his fellow person. After he has accomplished this connection with is fellow man he will seee how he must feel connected to G-d, which is a further external thing.

A Good Shabbat

© Thought of the Week - Yermi Kurkus

Derived from Talmud and The teachings of Rebbe M.M. Schneerson

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Thought of the Week- Parshas Teruma

This Torah portion talks about how G-d commanded Moses to take special craftsmen that have the G-dly divine providence in them. They would understand how to build and construct G-d's Temple.

G-d commanded Moses saying:

"And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst" (25:8)

However according to Hebrew grammar and literature, this verse is not correct. Instead of stating "And I will dwell in their midst," it should say "And I shall dwell in it [the sanctuary]." But since The Torah wrote it this way, there must be a reason and something must be learnt out of this.

The Rebbe, Reb M.M. Schneerson brings several explanations from different sources and adds a bit of insight in to them:

Firstly, in the simple way of explaining this question, is by saying that G-d is encouraging and commanding us to build
synagogues and miniature sanctuaries around the world where Jews are found. (However one must note that there is a commandment that prohibits the sacrifices of animal as done in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem other than in Jerusalem itself!)
The Hebrew word of "Mikdash" which literally means "Sanctuary" also means holy. Hence any place that is put aside for serving G-d becomes a Holy Sanctuary. That is G-d's intention.
It is also said that after the destruction of the Holy Temples "the Jews have to have the 4 Amot (approximately 8 feet) of Torah." (I.e. a study or similar.) This means that Jews are encouraged to have a room set aside in their house to be a study or library with Jewish Torah books, and a place where to study. (Usually whenever the Talmud uses the measurement of 4 Amot, it refers to a table!)

Another explanation is that through building the Sanctuary (or Temple) this will cause G-d to dwell in each Jew literally. In each one's heart and consciousness. G-d will then be with the Jew in whatever he does. G-d will allow him to succeed through the fact that the person allows G-d into his house and gives Him a dwelling place there.

A third and very interesting explanation is. G-d says to build him a sanctuary in this world. In this fake, dark, mundane and physical world where it wouldn't be possible for G-dliness to find it's place here. But G-d had a strong desire to see mundane physical creatures turning the physical mundane dark world into a holy place such as heaven etc. ‘This,’ G-d says, ‘is done by the Jews accepting to take G-d in make Him a study or library in ones home and/or building synagogues.’ This will allow G-d to dwell amongst us. G-d expects us to go around and publicize His name and doings, this will cause G-d to dwell in other people as well. Through that, eventually be known in the whole world. That is very similar to what it's like up there in Heaven.

From this we can learn that G-d is with us whatever we do no matter who we are. Religious or not, G-d dwells in whom ever allows Him in. Through good deeds, through belief, through prayer, and anything of the like, G-d will dwell in you and make you succeed. When people will ask you why suddenly did you change? What is this you don't drive on Shabbat any more? Then you will tell them G-d commanded me to keep Shabbat. This is a way of building G-d a dwelling place, for now He feels "comfortable" (so to speak) in order to dwell in you. He would also dwell not only in you, but also amongst your family and friends. This is because this change could cause a gap between you and your relatives, friends and any person close to you. (However G-d’s repayment for coming close to Him is that they will come to respect you enough for your decision of change.) You never know what can tip the scale with a good word to a friend, or a good advice. This person might just one day think about it. Even if he laughs about it or mocks you about it now, but it's in his sub-consciousness and may cause him to change one day.

Here is a small story just to conclude this point.

Once a person came to the Rebbe for a blessing in his business, saying, "Rebbe, I have opened a store not to long ago, and I don't have many customers. If this continues I won't be able to up keep the shop. Please bless me with success." The Rebbe then looked at him and asked: "Do you set aside time for learning?" Puzzled the Jew replied, "No, I don't have time, I try to present my shop nicely, walk out side and try persuading people to come in to my shop. I work on new advertising ideas, but nothing seems to work! I really have no time to study during the day, and by the time I get home I'm too exhausted to lift a book." The Rebbe then advised, "do you remember when you were a Yeshiva student, whenever you tried to learn the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) would find some tactic to bother you?" The Jew replied with a positive nod smiling as he remembered, 'those good old days!' The Rebbe then told him "allow me to advise you with a trick. Instead of coming up with all kinds of advertising techniques, and straining yourself by standing out side screaming at passer Byers. Sit in your shop and study, The Yetzer Hara will then want to bother you, he will then send clients to bother you from your learning!" After a while this person did start making a lot of money. He eventually opened many branches to his stores, living quite wealthy. Just as the Rebbe advised, too many clients 'bothered' him because he allowed G-d into his business making it a sanctuary, by learning G-d's Torah!

Remember you can change this mundane and physical world, by simply saying a good word or giving charity, remember there are many ways of Doing Only Good!

Good Shabbat

© Thought of the Week - Yermi Kurkus

Derived from The Talmud, The Teachings of The Rebbe M. M. Schneerson, and from various other sources.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Thought of the Week- Parshas Mishpatim

After we got the Ten Commandments, the basis of our Torah, Moses came down from the mountain after 40 days and forty nights. He came down with the two tablets, and then started telling the the rest of the commandments orally. Only after this did he write it down. All this created the Chumash we have today. All the rules and comandments, were taught to Moses during those forty days and nights, after the recieving of the actual ten commandments.

One of the lessons we learn in this weeks Parasha is (as it states): (23:5) "If you see your enemy's donkey lying under its burden, would you refrain from helping him? You shall surely help along with him."

The Holy Baal Shem Tov writes of the phrase "If you see," when you will see in your daily life, that you have a good inclanation and a bad one, you will find that "your enemy's donkey" (Donkey is 'Chamor' in hebrew. It comes from the word Chumriyut-Materialism) is the materialism of the world. It is what is considered your enemy to your good inclanation, for it bothers and hides the spirituality. It is like an obstruction in the middle of the road, in the path of good, just as a donkey sits in the middle of the road stuck. It can't move thus not allowing the traffic of people to pass by "Collapsing under it's burden," just sitting there. One might automaticaly think, 'should I "refrain from helping him?" Should I have anything what to do with him? The Torah therefore teaches us... "You shall surely help ALONG with him." He too has a divine task, his task is to try to divert you from doing good, however you use him, the material part, to do good.

Money is always the best example. Everyone wants "the bling-bling" the "cash" the, whatever they like calling it. Most will do anything it takes to have the latest car, the most recent technology, the most fanciest house. This may cause them to swindle, or cheat one another. It may cause them to scam the government, or worse comes to worse go to the fast cash such as drugs or gambeling. All the worst things can come from money. Why because it's there infront of us. We hear it in the lyrics of every other song, or Hip hop how they are roling in their Bentley's and now we suddely die for one. It's there in all the movies how these celebreties have their 15 billion dollar Beverly Hills homes. All this are obstacles in our spiritual journey in life. It's hard to be honest in a good business deal, because you really don't want to loose the client so you'll do every thing possible to sell the item at the most profitable way possible. However the Torah teaches us that even though it seems so bad and we must refrain any connection to it what so ever. The problem is, if you don't have money you won't have the bread on your table either. Therefore the Torah tells us that we must take this so called 'bad' and yet turn it into good. Be honest in your ligitamate clean business, G-d promises you that if your honest you'll do well. All you have to do is believe!

We may also take the verse to a more litarate note. If you see your enemy (someone you don't really like) who usually bothers you and bickers at you all the time. Don't lower yourself to his level and be like him. Even though it seems to you that you would rather ignore him and not pay attention to him (as sociaty dictates.) Rather you act nicely to him, you talk calmly and lovingly as though he is your friend this will naturally confuse him saying "Why can't I succeed in annoying him? Whatever I do doesn't bother him, he still shows me love and affection! This guy must really be a special guy!" This in most cases would cause him to stop bothering you. You may end up being good friends. This is why the Torah says, "you shall surely help ALONG with him." Why couldn't the Torah simply write "Help him." Rather it says "surely help along with him." The words "surely" "along" and "with" are all extra. This teaches us that in the end of the day he'll surely come to relise how foolish it is of him to bicker at you and he'll get along with you!

Remember an apple a day keeps the doctor away! And a good word a day keeps the hatred away! We can make this world a better place by doing ONLY GOOD

Good Shabbos!

© Thought of the week. Yermi Kurkus

Derived from the Teachings of the Baal Shem Tov (Kesser Shem Tov) and the Rebbe M. M. Schneersohn

Thursday, February 16, 2006

22nd Shvat - Passing of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka

Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka (Moussia) Schneersohn (1901-1988)

Wife of The Rebbe Menachem Mendle Schneersohn seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe and Daughter of the Sixth Lubavicher Rebbe Rabbi Yossef Yitzchak Schneerson.
Before her passing, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka asked for a glass of water. After reciting the blessing, " Whose word all things come into being," she returned her soul to her Maker.

The Rebbe pointed out that Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, his grandmother, Rebbetzin Rivka, his mother, Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah, and his daughter, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka all passed away in Shevat.

A special and wise woman, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka carried the mantle of her exalted position in a most humble and unpretentious fashion. All her life was based on the psalm, "The entire honor of a king's daughter is within." When calling the Rebbe's office at "770," or calling a high school girl ill in her dormitory, she always referred to herself simply as: "Mrs. Schneerson from President Street."

The Rebbetzin was a gentle and courteous lady. She saw her role as one wholly devoted to the work of her husband. Even when relaying the advice to those seeking his guidance through her, she would repeat what he said word by word, making sure that it was understood exactly as the Rebbe intended.

Once, the Lubavitch Women's Organization sent her a bouquet of flowers, together with a list of individuals for whom blessings were requested. Setting aside the flowers for the Rebbetzin, the secretary passed on the letter to the Rebbe who, observing that it was addressed to his wife, asked his secretary to give it to her, saying, "She too is capable of giving blessings."

The Rebbe once commented to a friend of the Rebbetzin, "You have a good lawyer on your side…"

This was particularly evident during a very crucial time in recent Lubavitch history, during the legal proceedings to establish the ownership of the books in the Lubavitch library. When the defendant's attorney asked her: "To whom did the books belong?" the Rebbetzin famously answered: "My father himself, and everything he had, including the books, belong to the Chasidim."

Thought of the Week- Parshas Yitro

This is one of the most remarkable Torah Portions in the entire Chumash! In this Portion it talks about the Jews receiving the 10 commandments and the Torah.

The Rebbe M. M. Schneersohn asked a very interesting question...
Why would the Torah portion that talks about the receiving of the Torah which is one of the most important portions in all of the Torah entirely be called after a man like Jethro? As it writes in regard to him that he was a Priest of Midyan. Rashi comments on this and says that there wasn't one type of religion that Jethro hadn't served. Only after he saw that all were false did he convert to Judaism. So how is it that a lofty man like Jethro could have the most important Parasha named after him rather than a saint like Moshe or Aharon.

A very interesting reply is then given!
Even though Jethro wasn't even by the giving of the ten commandments he still heard about it. He was amazed at how G-d took the Jews out of Egypt. He heard all the stories and miracles the Jews encountered in the desert and the like.This amazed him and he realised that no matter what idol he would serve, no matter what religion and belief he could follow, no idol and no belief would ever be able to do anything as powerful as G-d Himself. In fact, they are all stones and fake theories. G-d is the only One true being master of the universe and no other is like Him.This caused him to convert with all his heart.

However it is still not a valid reason as to why wasn't this portion named after a saint. We cannot forget that Moses was on the peak of the mountain, Aharon and the 70 Elders somewhere in the middle, and every one else at the foot of the mountain behind the fence surrounding it. As it is written that no one was allowed to touch the mountain or he would die except for Moses, Aharon and the 70 Elders.

This can be explained by a parable that Rabbi Y.Y. Schneersohn (the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe) brings.
There is a famous question. Why is it easier to immerse ones heel in hot water rather than ones head?

This is all explained through science and Kabbala.
There are 2 types of Soul powers.

  • Intellect & emotion. These correspond to the internal and particular soul power.

  • Desire and will. These correspond to the general and encompassing soul power.

The intellect is found in the brain, whereas the emotion is found in the heart. However the desire and will are everywhere in the body equally. This is why when the body wills or desires to go into the hot water the head right away says "wow be careful its dangerous!" with all his intellectual reasons as to why not to go in. However the heel which is the lowliest part of the body does it right away with out asking.
Same is true in the human nature. The more intellectual the person is, the harder it becomes to tell him what to do. However the lower laymen tell him to do something and doesn't need much reasoning he'll do it.

It turns out that the lower status people are, the more important they are. If they were to touch this extremely holy mountain they would get too emotional and die!
In reply to why the Parsha is named after such a low person so to speak a very nice parable given.
From what I heard from Rabbi Yona Metzger (chief Rabbi of Israel) if you were to have 2 three metered ropes tied to a pole. They are exactly the same legth and there is no difference between them. However if you were to cut one of them in the middle and then retie it in the place it was cut, it would no longer be the same size as the uncut one. In fact it would be shorter and closer to the pole. So too is in the religious world. Jews are tied to their creator via their souls. They are always connected to Him. If one sins however this connection is severed. However never will the souls connection to G-d will be lost. When one repents the cut is retied hence he is closer to G-d than he was before he severed the rope. Where as the one who never sinned stays the same always. However one must remember how important it is to G-d that one doesn't sin. If one sins intentionally, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (Alter Rebbe first lubavitcher Rebber) explains in Tanya that this is considered as a rebel, one whome can never fix this blemish in his soul.

From this we can understand that whatever status you were born into, religious or not, or you somehow became misled and you sinned, it is from this that we can say don't worry, you're not forgotten. If you come back with your fullest heart promising never to go back to your old ways it is extremly precious in-front of G-d. Now imagine one that never was conected to G-d became a saint just like Moses or the like, how great would be his position.

This is the reason that the majority of times in this portion Jethro is reffered to as Moses Father-in-law. As Rashi comments, the Father-in-law of the king! In this portion it also says how Jethro advised Moses what to do regarding his judging the entire nation. Jethro advised him to make a high court and lower courts under it (exactly the way it is today.) Moses then asked what G-d thought of the advice and G-d agreed with Jethro!

Remember you can make a difference in the world simply Do Only Good!

©: thought of the week - Yermi Kurkus

Derived from the teachings of The Rebbe M.M. Schneersohn, Rebbe Y.Y. Scneershon, Alter Rebbe (Tanya)

Friday, February 10, 2006

10 Shvat Hillula (Yartzeit) of Rabbi Y. Y. Schneersohn

This past week (Wednesday) was the marking of 56 years since the passing of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950.) He was the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe also known as the Rebbe Rayatz and was a very remarkable character, due to the special upbringing of his father Rabbi Shalom Dovber Schneersohn (1860-1920) (for he was his only child.) Rabbi Y.Y. kept a diary/journal of all the special moment of his life and his early memories from a very young age. (Today these journals are printed known as Likutei Diburim).

From being his father's personal secretary to eventually being his successor Rabbi Y. Y. always lived up to his fathers' expectations and he kept at it to the end of his might, causing him to get arrested and exiled several times. Rabbi Y. Y. suffered greatly all in order to make sure Judaism was still being practiced.

Providence had it and brought Rabbi Y.Y. and most of his family and belongings to New York in 1940. When he came he saw that the Jewery was much farther away from Judaism than in USSR and the surroundings. However Rabbi Y. Y. kept the mentality and motto as "America is no different."

For a whole decade Rabbi Y.Y. lived in NY on 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. He was the first citizen ever that the immigration office came to his house to sign the papers of his citizenship! On Shabbat the 10th of Shvat 5710 (1950) The holy Rabbi passed away. One year later in 5711 (1951) on the anniversary of the first year Rabbi Menachem Mendle Schneersohn succeeded his saintly father in law making him the seventh and final Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Thought of the week - Beshalach

In this weeks portion it talks about the actual redemption. In continuation to last weeks thought, as to G-d coming to us and after that we become close to Him, this week talks about both G-d and the jews are united as one. It talks about the Jews traveling in the desert right before receiving the Ten Commandments. It also tells how G-d made the Manna descend from heaven.

The Rebbe M. M. Schneersohn explains this in a very clear way! There is a rule in the Jewish Code of Law. If one is traveling in a place where he cannot keep count of what day it is for whatever reason, one must start counting seven days from the last day he remembers. (I.e he believes that he set out on his journey on a Monday, which was about 3 days ago. However he is unsure if it was truly a Monday that he has embarked on this journey. The Law requires him to count as though it was Monday that he set out. Now three days later, it is Thursday.) Another problem arises. What portion of the Torah should he read on this Shabbos? He doesn't remember which portion it is! It is a requirement in the Law that the portion talking about the Manna shall be read.
Here we find in many different Laws the great combination between the Shabbath and the Manna. Another example would be the Law that requires three Shabbath festive meals. It derives from a verse in the portion of the Manna.

Thirdly,the Law of two full breads for the Hamotzi on Friday night and Shabbat Day meals, were also derived from the Manna which is called Lechem Mishneh
(Doubled Bread).

However the Rebbe askes; Many things that Shabbat has, has nothing to do with the manna at all. Such as the 39 Melachot (Sabbitical prohibitions regarding tasks.) The only two things that the Manna and Shabbat have in common is:

  1. The fact of not being able to go out and collect the bread on shabbat. (This is the Law of carrying in public domain, forbidden on the shabbat) and...

  2. the above mentioned things we learn out of the Manna Portion.

The Manna is also very different than Shabbat for the Manna came in different ways and different places for different people. For the righteous people the Manna was fully Leavened bread that fell right at their door steps. As for the not so righteous people, were given cookies (or unleavend bread) and on the other side of town. Whereas the wicked had hard rock like flour which they needed to grind up and bake into unlevend bread. They also had to collect them outside of town.
The difference between the Manna and Shabbat, is that Shabbat is for everyone. So why should this law (when a person is lost and has no idea what portion he should read) necessarily be the portion disscussing Manna?

The Rebbe then brrought a very beautifull explantion to this complicated question.
True there are many diffrences between Manna and Shabbat. Shabbat is the day of rest from the whole week of toiling and sweat bearing just to put bread on the table. However in the desert they had no toiling for it came straight from the sky.
In our life today we are not guaranteed that the grain will grow, or the produce will be good or healthy enough to eat. But in the times of the desert even the wicked had flour. Yes they needed to grind it etc. but they were guaranteed that it was going to be good and healthy food! Hence the blessing we say on bread today 'Hamotzi Lechem Min Haaretz' ('He who takes out bread from the earth.') The blessing for the Manna was however 'Hamotzi Lechem Min Hashamayim' ('He who takes out bread from the skys.')
So what is the great comparisson between Shabbat and the Manna?
Shabbat will come whether you like it or not. There is no hard work in order to get it. It's there, and will come automaticaly, guaranteed just like the Manna. However our daily bread is not guaranteed. Hence we must pray to G-d and Trust Him that He'll send us a blessing to put bread on the table. This is also what G-d means in the Verse.

"So the Lord said to Moses, Behold! I am going to rain down for you bread from heaven, and the people shall go out and gather what is needed for the day, so that I can test them, whether or not they will follow My teaching."

G-d was testing the Jews' trust in Him even with something guaranteed.

From this we learn, says The Rebbe. G-d guarantees a livelyhood to every being just as the Shabbat is guaranteed. Even though it doesn't seem guaranteed to have bread on your table, however G-d promises you to have it. All He askes for is for you to simply trust in Him that He'll give it to you. If there ever comes a time when you're out of work, or you're unable to pay the rent, you should contemplate and realise that you might be lacking in your trust in G-d. You should not worry about anything, and just leave it in G-d's hands. This of course doesn't mean sit back and let G-d do all the work. It is true that you must go out and look for it. (Just as every one including the righteous had to go out of their houses to collect the Manna). However you must pray to G-d to help you out and believe with the fullest trust that G-d will help somehow!

Remeber you can make a difference in this mudane world, all you gotta do is do only good!!!

© Thought of the Week - Yermi Kurkus

Derived from the teachings of Rebbe M. M. Schneersohn - Talmud- Code of Jewish Law

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Thought of the week - Vaeirah and Bo

Vaeirah and Bo are not two portions that are read on the same Shabbat but there is an amazing comparison between them!

It says "Vaerah el Haavot" (lit. "I have revealed myself to the patriarchs.") The Hebrew word of Haavot can have several meanings. Besides for Patriarchs it can also be derived from the word Taavah (Lit. Desire.) Avot can thus mean the desires. This could be concluded with the world is a mundane and physical world full of all kinds of desires.

G-d told Moses that he came down to this mundane world, and he revealed (and is going to carry on revealing, ) his great powers in this world of desires. Therefore this portion has seven of the ten plagues, indicating to the seven days of the week in which nature conducts itself. We should also note that all these seven plagues were natural things. (Blood, frogs, lice, wild beasts, pestilence, boils, and hail.) In addition they all lasted for 7 days.

In Bo it says "Bo el Pharoh" (Come to Pharoh.) Bo is in the Hebrew numerical value of 3. G-d is saying to Moses, "Come, I have 3 more plagues worse than all the others, for these ones are above nature." (Locusts (created from earth), Darkness, and Death of the First-born.) The first two lasted for three days each as well.

It is brought in a few Kabbala books that the number seven represents nature, and the number eight represents above nature. Three however represents power, for it is said in Talmud that "The triangular type of bond shall never disconnect."

Hence this might bring us to a very interesting thought. At first G-d says that He reveals himself to us through his miracles and such. (His miracles could even be nature itself if we would think about it, such as a birth of a child etc.) After that G-d expects us to come to Him.
(Bo El Pharoh - Come to Pharoh, why couldn't G-d say "Go to Pharoh," but rather "Come"? It must mean that G-d isn't even referring to Pharoh at all, but rather to Himself, as if to say 'Pharoh considers himself as god but since I am the real G-d, I am the real (so to speak) "Pharoh" ') G-d therefore brings three more Plagues which turn out to be the most powerful ones for which is said about them, "For you shall know there is a mighty and powerful G-d."

Below is a well known prayer that we pray all the time, for the final redemption:
"Hashiveinu Eilecha Venashuva." (Bring us closer to you and we shall return.) This means reveal yourself to us, take us in and we will gladly come back to you!

However we must remember what G-d does for us each day. Every day we live is a great miracle. We see miracles every day. Remember the last time that you were running out of the house to meet a bunch of friends, and your mom calls you back because you forgot to wash up breakfast. Angrily you wash up because you are now gonna be late. Five minutes later, angrily walking along you see there was a huge crash, that happened five minutes ago. Who knows, maybe (Heaven Forbid!) you could have been there, but that small momental delay saved you! There are millions of miracles every day around us which we lack to acknowledge. We should thank and praise G-d so many times for all the kindness He does for us, and let us give Him back some. Remember you can change the world if you do only good!

Derived from some Kabbala books, Talmud, and from various teachings of The Rebbe M. M. Schneersohn.

© Thought of the week, Yermi Kurkus