Sunday, June 21, 2009
A Marriage Made in Heaven
Life is Just a Pot of Chloent
Men are From Mars
Why do Chassidum Wear Dark Clothes?
What is Humility?
How do I Know that G-D Exists?
I Feel Like A Hypocrite
G-d Wants His Children to Follow Their Path
Is Religion Responsible for War?
Does Judaism Respects all Mankind?
Judaism is the Path, Not the Luggage
It's Not Just Cricket (Moshiach)
Our Relationship With G-D
Is There Only One G-D?
Services Every Week?
Sweet Stings On Rosh Hashanah
The Kabbalah Fad
What is a Jewish Soul?
Who Created G-D?
Who is Your G-D?
Why Are We Not Vegetarians?
Why Do Rabbis Discourage Conversions?
Why Doesn't Judaism Allow Cremations?
Why Don't Miracles Happen Today?
Why is Jewish Law so Detailed?
Why is There A Big Picture of the Rebbe in your Ho...
Why is Pressing a Button on Shabbos Considered Wor...
Can a Pet Be Family?
Can a Rabbi Get Married?
Should We Make Conversion Easier?
Did G-D Create Evil?
TV- Reality or Fantasy?
Handicapped or Blessed?
How Can I Be Happy?
The Wall of Holiness
The Dance of Life
Yom Kipper is for Imperfect People
What is the Biggest Threat to Judaism?
To Receive, is Better Than to Give
The Unity of the Chuppah (Marriage)
The Good and the Bad (Suffering)
The Dark Before the Light
Somebody Elses Problems
Should a Wedding be Kosher?
Broaden Your View (Marriage Match)
Every Seed (Mitzvah) Counts
The Chosen People
A Spiritual Gift
A Rabbi and a Buddhist
Divorce a Spiritual Operation?
Children Need a Strong Foundation
A True Success
Friday, June 19, 2009
I recently attended a wedding. It was a very different experience.
One thing I had never seen before, is that the bride wears a veil at the Chuppah, she can't see anything at all, and no one can see her face.
What is the reason for this?
There's a stereotype, when it comes to marriage: men marry women, for their looks; women marry men, for their money. There are of course many exceptions to this rule, but there is some truth to it.
Men fall for beauty. The fact that there are plenty of pretty girls, with rotten character does, nothing to stop the male quest, for a beauty queen.
And so, many wonderful girls are overlooked simply, because they do not fit into today's narrow and superficial, definition of beauty.
Meanwhile, women say they want a man who is financially stable, which is often just a euphemism, for a rich guy. Somehow she thinks, that if he has a seven digit bank balance, he will know how to look after her.
As if buying expensive jewelry, and luxurious vacations, is the only way to show her, that he really cares. And the really nice guys, who are not such high flyers, are often left behind.
Of course we need to be attracted to our spouse, and of course we all need money to survive. But these are not the most essential ingredients, for a happy marriage.
Too often people fall for the outer version, of what they truly seek.
Rather than physical beauty, what we are really looking for is, inner beauty, and a sweet heart. It is not wealth we seek, what we really want is, a steadfast and dependable source of support.
It is only when we see beyond the superficial, and meet the real person; that we have a chance of finding, and keeping, our soul-mate.
This is the message behind the thick veil. When the groom veils his bride, he is telling her, "I am not marrying you for your pretty face, I am marring you for the beautiful person you are.
So I would marry you, even with your face covered. Your beauty shines, from within."
And the bride being veiled, is telling him, "This veil will help me from seeing, what type of wedding ring you place on my finger. I don't care, I will accept whatever ring you give; because I get you. It is you, I want to marry, not your money, or the jewelry you buy me."
A rich person can lose his money, and a pretty girl her looks. But inner beauty, and spiritual wealth, are ours forever.
A marriage based on such eternal values, will conquer just about anything, forever…..
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Rabbi, I appreciate your invitation to join your classes, but I just don't have time in my life for spirituality right now.
My week is packed with work, family commitments, fitness and a little socializing and time to relax.
I don't see where I can fit in spiritual activities. I don't want to burn out, do I?
There's a story that I'm sure you've heard before, and it has probably been forwarded to you as an email hundreds of times, but I will tell it anyway.
There was once a Rabbi teaching a classroom full of students. He started his lesson by saying, "My dear students, today is our last class together, before you graduate.
For this special occasion, I am going to do something different. I am going to teach you the secret of a good cholent."
The students were aghast. Cholent, the traditional Shabbos stew, is a classic of Jewish cooking, but hardly a profound subject for a Rabbi, to teach his students for their final lesson.
The Rabbi took out a crock-pot, and filled it to the brim with potatoes. He then turned to his students and asked, "Tell me, now that I have filled the pot with potatoes - is the pot full?"
"Yes," his students replied, confused by the simplicity of the question, for there was no way to fit in any more potatoes into the pot.
With a smile, the Rabbi took out a bag of beans and poured it into the pot. The beans managed to slip between the spaces among the potatoes.
"Ok," said the Rabbi, "now is the pot full?" Looking into the pot the students agreed, that it was indeed full.
Without missing a beat the Rabbi took out a bag of barley, and poured it into the pot. The small kernels meandered effortlessly between the cracks and crevices, among the potatoes and beans.
"Now it's full," said the students.
"Really?" said the Rabbi, taking out his collection of spices. He then began shaking generous amounts of salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder, all over the pot.
The students watched dumbfounded, as the spices easily settled into what had seemed to be, a completely full pot.
The Rabbi, obviously enjoying himself, asked again, "Is it full yet?"
Without waiting for the answer, the Rabbi produced a jug of water, and proceeded to pour its contents into the pot.
To the amazement of his students, he was able to empty the entire jug of water into the pot, without a drop spilling over the sides.
"Alright,” said the Rabbi, a look of satisfaction on his face. "Now it really is full, right?" The students all nodded in agreement. "
Are you sure?" prodded the Rabbi., "Are you absolutely certain, that I can't fit anything more into this pot?"
Suddenly unsure of themselves, the students looked at each other nervously and said, "Surely you can't put anything else into there!"
With drama and pathos, the Rabbi raised a finger in the air, lowered it slowly, and flicked a switch on the side of the pot, turning on the heating element lying beneath.
"You see," said the Rabbi triumphantly, "I just filled the pot with the most important ingredient of all - warmth. Without it, the pot may as well be empty."
The Rabbi paused, and looked deeply into the eyes of his stunned students.
"My children," he finally addressed them, "you are about to leave my class, and go on to live busy lives.
In the big world out there, you will no longer have the luxury of studying holy texts all day. In time you will be consumed by the pressures of looking after a family and making a living.
But always remember this: your material pursuits are just the potatoes and beans of life. Your spirituality, that is the warmth.
"Until the fire is turned on, the pot is full of disparate ingredients. It is the warmth that unites them all, into one single stew.
"If you don't maintain a spiritual connection, through praying every day, studying the holy books, and keeping focused on the true meaning of your lives; then you will end up as a cold cholent - very busy, very full, but completely empty.
When you have lost touch with your soul, your family life will suffer, your career will be unfulfilling, you won't even be motivated to exercise.
"But if you keep the fire burning in your soul, if you stick to a daily schedule that nourishes the spirit, even if it is only for a few minutes a day, then those few minutes will bring warmth and inspiration, to all your other activities.
A spiritual connection imbues your entire life with meaning, keeps you anchored and directed, inspired and motivated. It permeates all you do with a sense of purpose, and helps you succeed."
"You may be wondering," continued the Rabbi, "how will you have time for all this? How will you be able to juggle the demands of material life, along with your spiritual development? You will find the answer by looking at the cholent.
Did you notice, that though the pot seemed full of potatoes and beans, barley, spices and water, when I added the warmth, it did not overflow? Never think, that adding spirituality to your schedule, will overburden you.
On the contrary, it will bring everything else in your life together, because it will remind you, why you do all these other things in the first place:
You work, in order to be able to live a life of meaning.
You get married, in order to bring the best out in yourself and your spouse.
You have children, in order to educate them in the ways of goodness.
You keep fit, in order to have the strength to fulfill your mission.
Spirituality is the warmth, that does not take up space, it creates more."
With a loving smile the Rabbi concluded his farewell, with words of wisdom that I think apply equally to you:
"You should never think, that you are so busy that you can't afford to concentrate on your soul. The truth is, you can't afford not to.
May G-d bless you, that each and every one of you, should always be, a warm pot of cholent!"
My husband just doesn't seem to get it. He came home over an hour late last night, without so much as calling to tell me, that he won't be on time.
This is the fifth time he has done this, and we are only married three months! It may seem pett, but it upsets me greatly. I don't want him to see me as a nagging wife, but what should I do?
This may be disappointing, but it sounds like your husband is acting like a pretty normal guy. And you sound pretty normal too. That's why you are having this problem.
There is something you need to know about men, they are loners. Being in a relationship, is unnatural to them. They do not automatically think about, how their actions affect someone else. The default emotional state of a man, is loneliness.
This is not true of women. A woman has an innate sense of relationship, of connection to others. A woman naturally shares of herself and bonds with others, a man does not. She is a relationship being, he is a lonely being.
Of course, it is a big generalisation to say, that all men are loners, and all women are connectors, and generalisations are never accurate. But to say generalisations are never accurate, is itself a generalisation, and thus not accurate either.
So let's generalise: Man's natural state, is to be single. Woman's natural state, is to be in a couple.
There is a solid base for this theory. It stretches all the way back to the beginning of time, to the first man and the first woman, Adam and Eve. Adam was created alone. His original state, was that of a bachelor.
But Eve was created from Adam. She was never single. Eve by her very nature was a relationship being, because she was created with her partner next to her.
She had an inborn sense of interconnectedness, she intuitively knew, that we are not alone in this world, that our actions impact others, and that we can and must be sensitive, to those around us. This was innate to her psyche, for she was never alone.
But all this was new to Adam. He had to learn what a relationship means, and how to be aware of another, for at his core he was a lonely being.
Adam is the essential man, and Eve the essential woman. And so until today, women are relationship beings, and men are lonely beings. Not that, all women are good at relationships, and not that, all men are hopeless hermits.
Rather, women are more likely, to know how to bond with others, and men are more likely, to keep their emotions to themselves.
So your husband has no idea why you are upset when he comes home late. He may be thinking, "Why can't she occupy herself until I get there? Is she so insecure, that she can't look after herself for an extra hour or so?"
What he doesn't yet understand is, that while he is a loner, you are a connector. You don't need him to be physically with you all the time, but emotionally, he must be with you all the time. If he would just call to say he is late, you will not be feel alone, because he showed that he cares, he has bonded with you.
Eve's mission was to help Adam come out of his isolation, and learn how to connect. You need to do this too. Explain to your husband, that it is not his lateness that upsets you, it is that he wasn't considerate enough to communicate his lateness, to you.
Help him understand, that he is no longer alone, and show him how beautiful the world is, when shared with someone else.
Give it time - you can't cure existential loneliness overnight. But if you persevere, with gentleness and love, he will open up that lonely place inside himself, and let you in.
Then you can share your lives in your own Garden of Eden, and never be lonely again.
If the above is true, and women are such relationship experts, why can't my wife communicate clearly, and just say what she means?
It was her birthday yesterday, and when I mentioned it last week, she said, "Don't you dare do anything for my birthday!" So I didn't. Now she won't speak to me. I did exactly as she said, and I'm in trouble. Am I missing something?
Yes, you are missing something, it's called women's intuition. Your wife has it, and you never will. Men are literalists, women
are intuitive. It's been that way, since the beginning of time.
It all started with Adam and Eve. When G-d told Adam, "Do not eat of the fruit of knowledge, because if you do you will die", he took it literally.
But Eve read between the lines. She understood that when G-d says don't eat, He really means, "Eat, but I didn't tell you to". Eve (mistakenly) sensed, that G-d wanted humans to experience mortality and fallibility, He wanted them to know both good and evil, but He didn't want to force it on them, He wanted them to choose it.
She used her intuition to uncover what G-d really meant, according to her perception. That's why she ate of the fruit.
Eve acted intuitively, because that's how she was created. The verb used to describe G-d creating Eve was "Vayiven", which literally means G-d built Eve, but can also be translated as, "G-d endowed Eve with intuition."
She was given an additional insight ,to be able to read between the lines, and understand, what lies behind the words people say.
To this day women possess this ability, to intuit hidden messages, and sense what is below the surface. And sometimes they mistakenly expect others to have this insight too. When your wife told you, she doesn't want anything for her birthday, she thought you would hear not her words, but her inner intention.
What she meant was, "I don't want to tell you, what I want for my birthday, I want it to come from you."
But being a man, not blessed with women's intuition, you took her on face value, and did as she said: nothing. Women's intuition is a wonderful gift, but your wife will have to learn that you simply don't have it.
Her female friends might know exactly what she means, even when she doesn't say it; but you, her husband, will only ever hear what she says, and act accordingly.
You must let her know, that you may never learn to read her mind, and teach her to say exactly what she means, and give you clear instructions.
This is not because, you are not in tune with her, and not because, you don't love or understand her. It is because, you are a man, and that's all you need to be.
I wonder about the Hassidic, who wear dark clothes.
They are not expressing their individuality.
Obviously I can’t speak for others, only for myself. In my personal life I have found, the opposite to be true. The Hassidic dress code actually helps me become more creative, original and individualistic.
I will tell you why. You see, being an individual means, having something unique about yourself, that no one else has. According to you, to be original you need a weird shirt, cool shoes, and an unusual haircut.
The more unusual your “look,” the more you stand out from the crowd, and establish your identity as an individual. But let me ask you, is that really what makes you different from everyone else? Is that all you can do to be unique -- put on one outfit or another? Couldn't anyone do that?
Is that what really defines your unique, individualistic identity?
In the Jewish tradition, what makes an individual, is not the clothing, but the character. When you are a part of a community of people, that all dress the same, there is only one way to stand out: You, have to be original, not your clothing.
The people around you notice you for your character: the way you treat people, your manner of speech, the flavor of your soul, the hue of your heart, the depth of your sacrifices, the quality of your relationships, the candidness of your communication.
You can't hide behind a superficial individuality, based on hairstyle and fashion -- you have to be a real individual.
Max, I'm not telling you, to go out and buy a black hat and jacket, everybody ought to dress the way they like. But perhaps you should rethink, how you look at yourself, and how you are projecting your image, to the world around you.
Is it possible, that many of us are obsessed with dressing peculiarly, only to compensate for the lack of a genuine sense of inner individuality; and the absence of awareness, of our unique place and mission in this world?
People who are truly comfortable with their individuality, don't need to let their hair grow to their knees, or tattoo themselves from head to toe, or walk around half-naked, just to prove that they are different.
Long hair, short hair, black pants, yellow pants, who cares? It is what's inside, that makes a man.
This consciousness, Max, is not acquired through a particular style of dress, it stems from an inner character.