Saturday, July 31, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
1. Sometimes it helps to step back and take a look at the big picture.
2. Sometimes it's fun to just do a silly cartoon for a laugh.
3. Sometimes we get so involved with our cause that we spout our assessment of the situation to anyone who'll listen.
Today's cartoon is an attempt to deal with all three ideas.
Have a great weekend!
Friday, July 23, 2010
A Dvar Torah on this week's Parsha
Groping for a transcendent word in a vocabulary generated by our physical lives, we seize upon "light." Light is our metaphor for the incorporeal, the spiritual, the Divine. We speak of an era of "enlightenment" dispelling dark ages of ignorance and ignominy, of a "ray" of hope penetrating the blackness of despair, of the Divine "light" that bathes the virtuous soul.
Light straddles the defining line that runs between the physical and the spiritual. Sans weight, sans mass, sans just about any of matter's properties, light is the most ethereal of physical "things." Perceptibly real, yet free of the qualities we ascribe to the objects of our perceptible universe, light serves as a bridge of allegory between a mind grounded in a material environment and the metaphysical abstractions it contemplates.
In his , Rabbi employs the metaphor of light to explain what is perhaps the most radical truth expressed by the: the inexistence of the universe.
Twice in the 4th chapter of (verses 35 and 39 respectively), the Torah makes this amazing statement:
The ever-sensible mind, confronted with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, may perhaps interpret these verses to mean that there are nogods other than He. I, the mind will insist, the body I occupy, the table it is sitting at, and the computer screen it is looking at, certainly exist. These verses, then, are only affirming the basic tenet of Judaism -- that there is but a single, singular creator and ruler of the universe.
Not so, say the Kabbalists and the Chassidic masters: "there is none else" means that there is none else. Indeed, they explain, to maintain that there are existences other than G-d is ultimately the same as maintaining that there are other "gods" beside Him. What real difference is there between saying that the universe is governed by thousands of gods, or by a god of good and an equally potent god of evil, or by a very powerful god who (almost) always triumphs over a much weaker Satan, or by a great and mighty god who pervades every iota of existence save for a single cubic centimeter of space? Ultimately, one is saying that there is more than one independently potent force in existence. To say that there is a god with the power to create and destroy universes, punish the wicked and reward the righteous, cause galaxies to spin and crops to grow, but that there also exists a single pebble with a power independent of His -- be it only the power to exist -- is to deny His exclusive divinity and power.
So when the Jew daily declares, "Hear O , the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is one," this is more than an affirmation that there is but one deity. It is a statement on the inexistence of all else save His one being.
Real in Relation
Yes, we perceive our own existence and the existence of the myriads of objects and forces we call "the universe." But this is our finite and subjective perception of reality. If we could observe reality from the all-transcendent perspective of the Creator, we would see a "world" devoid of selfhood and being. In the words of the Tanya: "If the eye were allowed to see the life and spiritual content flowing from the utterance of G-d's mouth into every creation, we would not see the materiality, grossness, and tangibility of the creation, for it would be utterly nullified in relation to this divine life-force..."
Modern physics demonstrates the relativity of apparent absolutes such as time and space. An object or event cannot be said to possess an intrinsic size or duration: these are always a matter of perspective. The same object may be an inch in length, as observed from point A, and a hundred miles long, as observed from point B; the same event can be said to transpire over the course of a second or a thousand years, again depending on the position and velocity of the observer. The mind may have to bend over backwards to assimilate a vision of reality so radically different from its first-hand experience of its environment, but every high-school science student has read of the experiments and seen the diagrams that demonstrate this truth.
But the Torah has a more demanding task for the mind: to comprehend the relativity of existence itself. To understand that the very it-ness of creation, even the very "I" that is the making the observations, is also a matter of perspective. That while the created reality perceives itself as real, there is a higher perspective from which reality is the truth that "there is none else beside Him."
Where, in our experience of the universe, is there an example of this sense-defying truth, an analog that may aid us in achieving this tremendous leap of mind? What model have we for the relativity of a thing's very existence? Light.
Light exists. We regard light as an entity distinct from its emitter, distinguishing between a luminous body and its luminescent expression. An observer on earth, for example, perceives both the sun and the light that extends from it, and hence our dictionary includes both the terms "sun" and "sunlight." But what would be the perspective of an observerwithin the sun? Would he, too, perceive "sunlight" as an existence distinct from the sun? Obviously not. Light, by definition, has a source and a destination, an emitter and an observer; light is information -- a communication from one thing to another. Light, then, exists only in relation to that which is outside of its source, but not in relation to the source itself. If sunlight is defined as "the sun's luminescent expression," then it cannot be said to "exist" within the sun, where the very notion of "expression" is superfluous and meaningless.
Does this mean that the entity we call light "begins" outside of the sun? Again, the answer is obviously No. The sun itself is not dark; the luminescence that extends from it certainly pervades it. It is just that the concept of "light" has validity and meaning only to an observer outside of the light's source. Lacking substance of its own, light exists only insofar as it serves its function: to carry information and effect from its emitter to that which lies outside its emitter. Where it has no function (i.e. within its emitter), it does not exist -- not because it is any less "there," but because it lacks the context that defines its existence.
Light, then, both exists and does not exist at the same time, depending on the context in which it is viewed. It goes from non-existence to existence not by undergoing any intrinsic change but simply by being observed from a different vantage point -- a point in relation to which its function has significance.
So light, explains the Tanya, is the metaphor through which we can try to understand the relative existence of the universe. Our world is "light" emitted by G-d: an expression of His omnipotence, a revelation of His majesty.2 As "light," the created reality has no substance of its own, no intrinsic being; its "existence" is defined solely by its function -- to express and reveal its Emitter. So the world exists only as observed from withoutits Creator and Source. As seen from G-d's perspective, it does not merit the term "existence" -- again, not because it is any less "there" (G-d, after all, tells us in His Torah that He created a world), but because in relation to the Divine "sun" the defining function of the sunlight of creation is utterly insignificant.
[Rabbi Schneur Zalman takes this a step further, pointing out an important difference between the sun/sunlight analogue and the Creator/creation relationship it illustrates. With the sun, we identify two distinct areas in whose context the "existence" of sunlight is considered: outside the sun, and within the sun. Outside the sun, sunlight exists; within the sun, it is non-existent. Regarding the Almighty, however, the existence of this "second perspective" is itself only a matter of perspective. In truth, there is no "area" that is outside of G-d's infinite reality; the "vacuum"3 into which G-d emanates His light is a vacuum of perception, real only from our mortal perspective. In other words, G-d did not create a reality outside of Himself, only the perception of a reality outside of Himself. So the "light" of creation is, in truth, "sunlight within the sun" -- that is, non-existent light. To us, the world exists only because we perceive ourselves as being "outside of the sun" -- a perceived vantage point from which "sunlight" is perceived as an "existence."]
The View from Sinai
As cited above, the Torah twice reiterates the exclusivity of G-d's existence, twice in the same chapter proclaiming that "there is none else" other than He. For there are two paths by which man may come to appreciate the nature of his reality vis-a-vis the Divine: from the top down, and from the bottom up.
The first verse (verse 35) is referring to the day that "G-d descended on Mount Sinai" in a unilateral revelation of His all-pervading truth. On that day, reminds the assembled community of Israel forty years later, "you were shown to know that the L-rd is G-d, there is none else beside Him." On that day you were raised above the arc of your subjective vision of self and existence, and accorded a glimpse of reality from Hisperspective.
The revelation at Sinai was a brief "foretaste" of a future world -- a world in which all masks and superimposed "perceptions" will fall away. A world in which "your master shall no longer shroud Himself; your eyes shall behold your Master"; a world in which "the world shall be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea" ( 30:20 and 11:9). The world of Moshiach, when, as the puts it, "G-d will take the sun out of its sheath" and obliterate the concealment that effects the perception of a reality outside of His.
Bracketed between the revelation at Sinai and the revelation of , we live in a world in which our Master does shroud Himself -- a world in which the sun remains sheathed and we are not "shown to know." It is regarding this world that the Torah enjoins us, in the second verse cited above, to "know today, and take unto your heart" that "in the heavens above and the earth below, there is none else." The knowledge is there, embodied in the heavens above and the earth below: in every blade of grass, in every sunset, in the depths of our minds, and in the sublimity of our hearts. In this world the onus is upon us to unearth this truth, comprehend it, and incorporate it into our hearts and lives.
This explains the difference between these two verses. When we areshown the Divine truth, there are no details, no mention of "the heavens above and the earth below." As viewed from the supernal perspective, the particulars of creation fade to insignificance. One does not even see the distinction between the spiritual ("the heavens above") and the material ("the earth below") -- only the singular truth that "there is none else beside Him." But when our quest begins from the bottom up, it is precisely these details and distinctions that build our knowledge and appreciation of the Divine truth. The more we delve into creation's components, the more we recognize them as rays of Divine luminescence. We recognize that creation is "light": an existence defined not in term of self-being but as the bearer of a higher truth.4
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Not all suffering can be explained. There is pain, sometimes, that is not punishment and not repair.
True, we were given Torah, a G-dly wisdom containing the secrets of all things. But concerning these things even Moses asked and was told to be quiet, to cease to ask. Because there are some things that even G-dly wisdom does not explain. Because they cannot be explained.
We can only know that whatever happens is from G-d, that G-d is just, and that He does not desire suffering.
But until the end of days, we will have to suffer the 'why'.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The Holy Ruzhiner (Chassidic master Rabbi of Ruzhin, 1797-1851) rejected all feelings of sadness, even of bitterness. So his chassidim would engage in all sorts of practical jokes on the Ninth of (in order to mitigate the sadness of the day). They would throw burrs at each other. Then they conceived of the following prank: they opened a skylight in the roof of the study hall and dropped a snare; when someone walked into the study hall, they would yank on the rope so that the snare fastened itself around him, and pull him up to the roof.
It happened that the Ruzhiner himself walked in to the study hall. Those who were up on the roof could not see clearly who was coming in, so they pulled him up. To their dismay, they saw that they had pulled up their! As soon as they recognized who it was, they let him down.
Cried out the Ruzhiner: "Master of the Universe! If Your children are not properly observing Your 'festival,' take it away from them!"
Friday, July 16, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Thanks to everyone's help, 14 Friendship Circle branches across the US along with IVolunteer, Maimonidies School in Albany and Chai preschool in S. Mateo, CA have all been voted to the top 200 in the Chase Community Giving contest and will all be receiving $20,000 to further their great work.
In total, Chase will be donating $340,000.00 to the 17 Lubavitcher Mosdos.
Most Friendship Circles secured spots in the top 100 range, led by Friendship Circle of South Bay, CA which made it to 10th place with 8,172 votes!
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch told:
The 'Enlightenment Movement', in their war on traditional Jewish life, were once again plotting to enlist the aid of the czarist government to further their aims. Heading the effort was a certain Mr. Karpos whom the authorities had installed as a rabbi in Odessa. He had prepared a voluminous thesis 'proving' that religion is the number one enemy of civilization and had concluded with the recommendation that the study of kabbalaand other fundamentals of Judaism be outlawed. He had then headed to Petersburg to present his 'findings' to the government.
My father received word of these developments and dispatched me to Petersburg to deal with the matter. The purpose of the trip was kept secret: I travelled with my wife, Rebbetzin Nechama Dina, and we made it known that we had gone for a medical consultation.
After several days in Petersburg I had made no headway whatsoever; all my connections and exertions were to no avail. I notified father by telegram that all my efforts to stop Karpos had failed. Father replied that I was to keep on trying.
When several more futile days had passed, I took the train home to personally inform father of the hopelessness of the situation. When I entered father's room he was preparing for the morning prayers; his tallislay folded on his shoulder and he was examining its tzitzis. I reported the events and failed efforts of the last few days, and concluded that, as I sew it, there was absolutely nothing to be done about the situation.
Said father: "Once Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi sent his son, Rabbi DovBer, on a certain mission. Rabbi DovBer returned empty-handed. When he arrived, he found his father with his tallisfolded on his shoulder, checking its tzitzisin preparation for the morning prayers.
"Said Rabbi Schneur Zalman: 'Do you see? This is a tallis. The tallisexpresses the level of the Transcendent Light, and the Transcendent Light blinds all forces of evil.' Upon hearing this, Rabbi DovBer kissed his fathers tzitzisand went back. This time he succeeded."
Without another word, I took hold of father's tzitzis, kissed them, and caught the next train back to Petersburg. Again, I started racking my brains and making my rounds. Then, I had an idea. I went to Karpos' hotel and asked to see him.
Karpos received me warmly - it seems that he had heard of me or of my father. We sat and talked, and I brought up the subject of his dissertation. He spoke readily of his plans. "Soon we will see who will prevail" he challenged. "Soon, we of the Enlightenment will rid the Jewish people of your archaic notions and practices.
"I have already prepared all the material," he continued to boast, "now I have only to make a few finishing touches and it will be ready for submitting. Our czar's ministerial commission on culture and religions has scheduled to review the matter in a few days. Once and for all we shall make our case!"
"May I see what you wrote?" I asked.
"But of course. I have nothing to hide - in a matter of days, all will be decided" said the preening slanderer, handing me his manuscript.
Without a word I proceeded to tear the dissertation to shreds.
Karpos exploded in rage and frenzy. "What are you doing?! My lectures! My notes! Do you know how many months of research and writing are invested in these papers?!" I continued to tear the manuscript into tiny bits of paper. All the while he continued to bellow in rage, to curse and deride me. In his fury, he dealt me a resounding blow across the face.
When I finished with his papers, I ran from the hotel and returned to Lubavitch.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Friday, July 09, 2010
Monday, July 05, 2010
Sunday, July 04, 2010
They are generally thought to be called wisdom teeth because they appear so late – much later than the other teeth, at an age where people are presumably "wiser" than as a child, when the other teeth erupt.
Different terms in other languages
Some languages use a different term for the same teeth, for example:
- Turkish refers directly to the age at which wisdom teeth appear and calls it 20 yaş dişi (20th year tooth).
- In Korean, its name is Sa-rang-nee (사랑니, love teeth) referring to the young age and the pain of the first love.
- In Japanese, its name is Oyashirazu (親知らず), literally meaning "unknown to the parents," from the idea that they erupt after a child has moved away.
- The Indonesian term gigi bungsu for the last teeth a person cuts refers to bungsu, meaning "youngest child", because the teeth erupt so much later than the others, implying that the teeth are "younger" than the rest.
- In Thailand, the wisdom tooth is described fan-khut (ฟันคุด) "huddling tooth" due to its shortage of space.
- In the Netherlands, the wisdom tooth is known as the verstandskies or "far standing tooth" referring to its remote location in the mouth. A second meaning for verstand is also "wisdom".
Thursday, July 01, 2010
did not give you light that you may hold it up in the middle of the day.
When you are given light it is in order to accomplish something, to do something difficult and novel.
Go take your light and transform the darkness that it may also shine!....
ennui (noun) feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom:
The endless lecture produced an unbearable ennui.....
Be aware when interpreting the UV index and recommendations that:
- The intensity of UV radiation reaching the surface of the earth varies greatly depending on how high the angle of the sun is in the sky. The sun reaches its highest angle at solar noon, which rarely corresponds to 12:00 on clocks. This is because of the differences between solar time and local time in a given time zone.
- The recommendations given are for adults with pale to lightly tan skin. Children and particularly fair-skinned people or those who have sun sensitivity for medical reasons need to take extra precautions.
- Damage from sun exposure is cumulative over one's lifetime. Cumulative exposure to the sun imparts damage to the epidermis (the outer layer) and the dermis, (the deeper layer where the skin's framework exists). Damage to the dermal layer changes the structural components, causing Elastin fibers to thicken and become more numerous. Collagen is damaged and degraded and 'reticulin' fibers appear throughout the dermis rather than outlining the specific dermal-epidermal junction.....
Dutch police may employ undercover agents disguised as religious Jews to expose and arrest violent anti-Semites, a police spokesperson said last week....
"A poetic blend of scholarship and philosophy unprecedented and often breathtaking in its boldness, Open Secret negotiates the vast range of Lubavitcher literature by and about Menahem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. From an authoritatively learned but nonsectarian perspective, Open Secretreads the Rebbe's messianism seriously. Elliot R. Wolfson confronts the Rebbe as a major figure in the Jewish esoteric tradition. The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Messiah presents a challenge that is inescapable for anyone who seeks to understand a twenty-first-century globalized Judaism, and Wolfson compellingly engages that challenge."....
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Two tags will be made with your design to ensure you can easily recognize your bags among thousands of others. Or, you can give the tags to someone else as a gift.....
11 (eleven) is also the number of Friendship Circles running in the Chase Community Giving campaign. Yes, Chase Giving is back, and so is our chance to make a difference for children with special needs in 11 different communities!
Every Facebook user has 20 votes. We're only asking for 11 of them :-).
Click Here to vote for the 11 Friendship Circles today.
Spanish Prime Minister: We Must Remember Israel is Free Nations Best Ally in Middle East.... José María Aznar - TimesPlus.co.uk, June 17th, 2010
Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger: No Fast for Gush KatifWhile not minimizing the tragic proportions of the expulsion, Rabbi Metzger gives several reasons why it should not be commemorated by an official day of fasting. For one thing, the rabbis are empowered to make new rulings such as national fast days only in cases where the public, or most of it, can be expected to observe them – which is not the case here.
In addition, he writes, “The subject of the uprooting from Gush Katif was a matter of sharp and painful public debate within the nation, such that a ruling of this sort as a day of mourning is liable to deepen and increase the split in the nation.”....
The perfume opens beautifully and smells like an early Los Angeles rooftop breakfast at the Peninsula: the scent of jasmine in fresh Pacific air plus the perfume of the guava mango fruit plate the waiter brings, with a bit of the swimming pool water and a hint of the exhaust from the Ferraris being valet-parked in front. The drydown is ever so slightly harsh. This isn’t necessarily a negative. It’s an effect nature uses in freesia, for example, and while in a perfume it can come from not giving the perfumer enough money for the best raw materials, let’s assume that here, it’s intentional. The slight coarseness makes it pure Versace. The white flowers and fresh green fade into a murmur after about 20 minutes. And there you have it.
Like the brand, the perfume should be taken with a pinch of irony. (The press material lists “Jasmine/Angel wing” as an ingredient. Why the hell are they killing angels and distilling their wings to make perfume? Doesn’t the EPA regulate this? Isn’t there some kind of celestial wildlife law?) But for those who love Versace — and the house has made an indelible mark on fashion — this is an extraordinarily faithful distillation of its essence....