Standing among the royal fans, he summed up the sentiment of the millions gathered at jubilee events around the country with a rendition of God Save the Queen.
more than 1000 boats sailed down the River Thames in a flotilla tribute to the
Queen's six decades on the throne that organisers were calling the biggest
pageant on the river for 350 years.
The Queen and members of her family led the river pageant aboard a
flower-bedecked royal barge, accompanied by skiffs, barges, narrowboats, motor
launches, row boats and sailing vessels from around the world.
Read more http://www.news.com.au/world/queen-elizabeth-ii-sparkles-on-her-day-for-the-diamond-jubilee/story-e6frfkyi-1226382093070
More articles here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2153969/Queens-Diamond-Jubilee-Tens-thousands-jubilant-revellers-throng-banks-Thames-Queen-arrives-Jubilee-river-pageant.html
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Michael Shaar, Yaakov Naftali Frenkel HY"D
With their pictures posted on countless Facebook pages, and widely published in newspapers and on websites, the faces of the three missing Israeli teens have been etched deep into the global Jewish consciousness and individual Jewish hearts. But is there something quintessentially Jewish about the response to the crime of kidnapping?
Especially in Israel, where parents now watch their teens with equal parts gratitude and concern, the kidnapping is highly personal. Life-size pictures hang from storefronts, the boys’ features fly by on the sides of buses, and an increasing percentage of the passengers inside those buses have their Tehillim (Psalms) books out. They are reading certain psalms such as No. 121, which centuries of Jews have turned to as an appeal for divine intervention in times of crisis. Indeed, it appears that the Israeli public’s focus on prayer might be at an all-time high.
In Jewish tradition, the crime of kidnapping is considered a violation of the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex. 20:13). But when what has been stolen is one’s son, the threat is of course personal than when one’s ox disappears.
[Note: the crime of kidnapping is also considered a violation of one of the Seven Noahide Laws - creedofnoah]
But for most Israelis, personally redeeming the three boys is a distant dream. Instead, they support the boys and their families with an unofficial formula of prayer and unity.
When Jews need to engage in very serious prayer, the Kotel (Western Wall) is often their destination. That is exactly where 17-year-old Hodaya Wienberg of Jerusalem went on one recent evening. Her brother is a soldier stationed in the West Bank. “I’m here so he will come back fast and safety,” she says.
Does Wienberg have a hunch that God is listening? “Of course he’s listening,” she says with a grin. “But maybe he’s looking for a better time to answer.”
On June 26, some 200 men, women, and children gathered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Baka to hear musicians including Yehuda Katz and Shira Golan sing psalms designed to petition for the safe return of the boys. “I don’t know how powerful my prayer is alone,” Katz says as he tunes his guitar in preparation for going onstage. “But when we send up our prayers together, we are banging on the gates of Heaven and insisting that He opens up and lets our prayers in.”
“People are praying now who haven’t prayed in years,” says Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth of Ohel Ari Congregation in the Israeli city of Ra’anana. “And, as we plead for the boys’ safe return, others who already pray are finding their prayers are coming alive in new ways.”
For Rachel Klein of Jerusalem, carrying a picture of the boys in her bag and keeping another on her refrigerator keep them at the front of her mind. “That way I can never forget that they need our prayers,” she says.
“When you are a Jew, prayer is an obligation to cry out to God in times of need,” says Sarah Yehudit Schneider, author of the 2009 book “You Are What You Hate.”
Prayer, explains Schneider, “fills in the hole which creates a conscious channel of partnership with Hashem, and this pulls down blessing from above.” Especially in times of crisis, people “are stretched and grow as a result of our prayer,” she adds.
“And when we begin to lapse into cynicism or despair, prayer can pull us right out of it... it stretches us so we can receive blessing. This is the purpose of every mitzvah, including the mitzvah of prayer,” says Schneider.
Prayer may be the most intimate of all the mitzvot—and that has “nothing to do with halacha (Jewish law),” according to Rabbi Benjamin Lau, head of the Israel Democracy Institute’s Human Rights and Judaism in Action Project and leader of Jerusalem’s Ramban Synagogue.
“Especially in times of crisis, we are talking about the language of he soul, about using the words of the tefillah (prayer) to express our deepest feelings, our truest selves,” says Lau.
Since news of the kidnapping emerged, countless congregations across Israel have added psalms to their daily and Shabbat services. Psalm 121 states, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains,” asking where help will come from—and the psalm’s answer is, from God. “We go to the roots of our ourselves, and we ask Him to intervene,” Lau says.
Katz, the musician, says he was visiting the family of abducted teen Naftali Frenkel when the topic of Jewish unity came up in conversation. “What [the Frenkels] wanted to talk about was their vision for bringing the Jewish people together,” says Katz. “And they told me that they feel every bit of our support.”
For Katz, music stands to serve as a conduit for both prayer and unity. “Our duty is to raise up cry after cry, plea after plea,” he says. “In this way we can learn once and for all that we are not primarily a religion but a nation and a family. All you have to do is look at their pictures to realize that these are our boys too.”
“The main thing we can do now is overcoming all the divisiveness,” says Rav Abraham Sutton, an Israeli author and teacher based in Kiryat Ye’arim, a town near Jerusalem. “These boys are all of us. We are supposed to feel their pain. We are supposed to send them strength and encouragement. When we say them together, they bring us together and lift us up above the petty and the trivial.”
Rabbi Neuwirth says, “After the boys are back home we have to remember this lesson of a united Jewish people. Then we won’t need other painful lessons to remind us that we are one people and what unites us is so much bigger than what divides us.”
Rav Sutton, meanwhile, insists that prayer and unity must be supplemented “with our inner work, fueled by a true desire and yearning for redemption.” Neuwirth agrees.
“Prayer and solidarity? Yes, but they’re not enough. You have to become a better person than you ever were before. Otherwise God is not going to listen to our prayers or be impressed with our unity,” he says.
Rabbi Beals suggests that one way to accomplish this is incorporating the boys into the happiest time of the Jewish week—when Shabbat enters our homes and our hearts.
“As we bless our own children at the Shabbat table on Friday night, Jews everywhere are also blessing those three boys,” Beals says. “They are a part of our family, as we are all part of the family of Israel.”
As the three abducted teens were laid to rest side by side yesterday a visibly emotional Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu then took to the podium.
“In the last 18 days the figures of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were carved on our hearts. ...This day spontaneously became a national day of mourning.
“The whole nation prayed for the return of the boys, and the whole nation saw the nobility of spirit, and inner strength of you, the parents,” added the prime minister.
“The nation understood immediately the depth of the roots and the strength of spirit you possess,” continued Netanyahu, turning to the parents. “We learned a lesson that will not be forgotten, of faith and firmness, of unity and sensitivity, of Judaism and humanity.”
Netanyahu continued “a whole nation stood together and received a reminder: who are we? why are we here?”
Addressing the mothers Racheli, Bat-Galim and Iris, Netanyahu remarked “you gave the whole world a lesson about the cry of a mother,” likely referencing their speech at the UN.
“These are despicable murderers of children, whose brothers rejoice over the spilled blood of the innocent. A deep moral abyss separates between us and our enemies. They sanctify death, we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty, and we sanctify mercy. That’s the secret to our strength, and also the basis for our unity,” noted Netanyahu.
“Life has it’s own strength, like a river that drags us forward, and gives us hope,” concluded the Prime Minister. “An entire nation cries and embraces you…they will be a source of comfort.”
- - -
The Children of Israel are like one person, like one body. We are always connected. If one arm opens the door the other arm will walk through with the rest of the body. We see this so clearly when a tragedy strikes our nation, God Forbid. Regardless of the background or country, everyone joins in together with support. They are like like one person, like one body - Rabbi Weisz
The Nation did not rest and left not a stone unturned in an effort to find the three abducted teen boys. Find them they did but unfortunately not as we had hoped. No one could know that for nearly three weeks, the bodies of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad, had been abandoned after being hunted and killed in cold blood in a shared fate, by terrorists who struck at the heart of a nation that so values its children. May we not know of any more sorrow.
Monday, July 22, 2013
The Principle Of Reciprocity
God has given us two hands. One to receive with and the other to give with. We are channels made for giving. It is in the act of giving that the channels for receiving are also opened. It is not how much we give but how much love we put into giving. Giving reduces self-centeredness and makes us more connected to others. Give generously, live joyfully, love abundantly.
"Whenever you feel ‘short’ or in ‘need’ of something, give what you want first and it will come back in buckets. That is true for money, a smile, love, friendship. I know it is often the last thing a person may want to do, but it has always worked for me. I just trust that the principle of reciprocity is true, and I give what I want" [Robert T. Kiyosaki]
"Our sages say "In the measure one metes out to others, so is meted out to him." In the course of our lives we face many situations when we are dependent on the kindness and generosity of others to make it through difficult times. The way we reach out to others when fortune is on our side will often determine how fate will treat us in our moment of need.
Charity is actually a cycle - the gifts that we give to others will eventually return to us. Furthermore, God is acutely tuned in to our small acts of goodness and kindness. Our acts of giving stimulate God's blessings to shower down upon all of us, the giver and the receiver alike." [Chaya Shuchat]
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Sometimes it’s hard to be an American.
We have created so many divisions in our society, ranging from politics to religion to sports teams, that make it hard and often saddening to wake up each day and call ourselves a part of an American community.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember what makes us a community in the first place.
But after the horrific events in Boston, we couldn’t have made a louder statement of the unity and compassion we share with and for each other.
Thousands of Bostonians opened their homes to those stranded in the city, marathon runners ripped off their clothes to aid the wounds of those injured and some, after 26.2 miles, ran to Mass General to give blood.
Twitter and Facebook lit up with “pray for Boston” hashtags and profile pictures, celebrities and athletes offered help — former Patriot Joe Andruzzi even carried victims from the scene — and restaurants provided free meals and shelter.
The Yankees even tweeted, for what has to be the first time ever, “We stand united with the @RedSox.”
America spoke with words of kindness and compassion, some willing to do anything possible to comfort those directly affected by the tragic event.
We may be a country built from and prided on our divisions. But underneath it all, we are united.
We share our love just as we share our freedom.
We cry for those we have never met and we do anything in our power to protect those we may never meet.
We are a nation that is inherently good.
The actions of those who care and love make an impact larger than any bomb can.
The unity we have strengthened this week is greater than any partisan divide in Washington or income divide between Wall Street and Main Street.
This unity is rare and it comes from kindness — the kindness of your everyday American, which often seems overshadowed by the cruel misdeeds of the few.
We proved this week that no evil can overshadow the love we have for each other.
That we will stand together as one, rejoicing together in celebration and mourning together in sadness.
We are one nation.
We are one family.
Today, we are all Boston. [vermontcynic.com]
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
"I still have lots of mommy love to give"
Two families, a town and a nation in mourning for first funerals of Sandy Hook massacre victims as shattered town begins to bury its little victims http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/connecticut-school-shooting-funerals-of-sandy-1494567
JetBlue flies letters to be buried with Noah Pozner
Jewish boys funeral is first after shocking school killing spree in Newtown, Conn.
Noah Pozner who is Jewish, and classmate Jack Pinto both were memorialized today by their families during funerals in Newtown CT.
A grief-stricken Newtown began laying to rest the littlest victims of the school massacre, starting with two 6-year-old boys — one of them Jack Pinto a big football fan, the other Noah Pozner described as a whip-smart youngster whose twin sister survived the rampage.
Noah’s twin sister, Arielle, who was assigned to a different classroom, survived the killing frenzy by 20-year-old Adam Lanza that left 20 children and six adults dead last week at Sandy Hook Elementary in an attack so horrifying that authorities could not say whether the school would ever reopen.
A eulogy for 6-year-old Noah Pozner has marked the start of a sad procession of funerals for the 20 children massacred last week in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary.
A rabbi presided at Noah's service, and in keeping with Jewish tradition, the boy was laid to rest in a simple brown wooden casket adorned with a Star of David, the Associated Press reported.
The service was held at the Abraham L. Green & Son Funeral Home. He was buried at B'nai Israel Cemetery in Monroe, which borders Newtown.
Noah's mother Veronique Pozner delivered a message at his funeral reflecting on the life of the little boy in Friday’s school shooting, and lessons to draw from his loss. Here they are, in full:
From mother, Veronique Pozner:
"The sky is crying, and the flags are at half-mast. It is a sad, sad day. But it is also your day, Noah, my little man. I will miss your forceful and purposeful little steps stomping through our house. I will miss your perpetual smile, the twinkle in your dark blue eyes, framed by eyelashes that would be the envy of any lady in this room.
Most of all, I will miss your visions of your future. You wanted to be a doctor, a soldier, a taco factory manager. It was your favorite food, and no doubt you wanted to ensure that the world kept producing tacos.
You were a little boy whose life force had all the gravitational pull of a celestial body. You were light and love, mischief and pranks. You adored your family with every fiber of your 6-year-old being. We are all of us elevated in our humanity by having known you. A little maverick, who didn’t always want to do his schoolwork or clean up his toys, when practicing his ninja moves or Super Mario on the Wii seemed far more important.
Noah, you will not pass through this way again. I can only believe that you were planted on Earth to bloom in heaven. Take flight, my boy. Soar. You now have the wings you always wanted. Go to that peaceful valley that we will all one day come to know. I will join you someday. Not today. I still have lots of mommy love to give to Danielle, Michael, Sophia and Arielle.
Until then, your melody will linger in our hearts forever. Momma loves you, little man".
"If Noah had not been taken from us he would have become a great man," uncle tells mourners. Noah. The theme of the biblical story plays in my mind. A call to action from Sandy Hook http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2076091/jewish/Driving-Home-from-Newtown.htm
Baruch Dayan Ha-Emes*. Although the 26 victims are not physically here on earth anymore, their souls remain alive. God gained 26 beautiful angels who definitely left their short-lived mark on this world. May Noah together with all the other pure innocent little victims souls Rest In Eternal Peace.
*Baruch Dayan Ha-Emes is the Jewish Blessing on hearing of ones death.
When death occurs - Death is the most unexplainable concept that we face. Why did someone die when they did? Why did God choose one person to live longer than the other? Why did the person have to suffer before his or her death?
However, even when it comes to death we are taught to bless God; we say, “Blessed is the True Judge,” acknowledging that this is beyond our understanding.
There is an infinite difference between us and God, and there is no way for us to understand His mysterious ways. We cannot comprehend; however, in spite of the pain of bereavement, we acknowledge that, ultimately, the “True Judge” knows what He is doing.
Immediate family members of those who passed on from this world would make the blessing of “Baruch Dayan Ha-Emes” as they rip their clothing during the funeral.[chabad.org]
Sunday, December 9, 2012
12 days left until December 21, 2012.
With 21 December fast approaching, there has been seemingly increased doomsday panic spreading worldwide with only days until the end of the Mayan calendar, with doomsday-mongers predicting a cataclysmic end to the history of Earth, as fears grow the world will end "Grand Armageddon Style" December 21 when the Mayan calendar abruptly ends causing us all to cease to exist, the story goes.
Will The World End In 2012?
The end of the world’s biggest impact is not on the Earth but on our psyches.
For as long as mans existence people’s minds have been impressed by the end of the world theories. People have been debating prophecies for a long time. The imminent destruction of our world, in other words ‘doomsday’, is baseless. There will be no sudden or major change of any sort. There will be no worldwide catastrophe. No comet or killer asteroid will collide with Earth and destroy us all. There will be no annihilation of humanity.
If God forbid the world is going to end, then there’s no need to prepare for anything because we’ll all be gone.
This day will pass like every other doomsday and apocalyptic madness that was ever predicted. It is really just a bunch of smoke and mirrors.
Starting bright and early on December 22, 2012 we will still be here. The sun will come up, we will rise from our slumber and we will begin a new grand and glorious day.
The Global 2012 - I don’t know what will happen by the end of 2012 but I do know that the world will not end.
Search on Google and you will find many claims that sometime soon the world will be destroyed. Catastrophic, movie-inspired endings are promised.
Don’t believe them. We know our world is here for a purpose. And the ultimate purpose of the world is not for it to be destroyed; but for it to be perfected with the arrival of the Messianic era. This perfection is brought closer by our good deeds, our positive actions and reactions to those around us, our good deeds and our optimistic and joyful take on life. Through these acts we have the ability to make 2012 a year of utopian good.
The Personal 2012 - In a conversation with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, a college student mentioned he was not able to be more active with helping others; he could only focus on his personal studies. He tried to explain to the Rebbe, “I find myself in this situation…”
The Rebbe told him, “Nobody finds themselves in a situation; you put yourself in that situation and you can put yourself in another situation.”
Most of the time, we place ourselves in situations via the choices we make in life.
While we cannot control everything that happens around us, we can control the situations we place ourselves into. It is our responsibility to put ourselves in the best places possible. [Dovid Zaklikowski]
We live in a world where things happen to us as individuals and as part of humanity and we simply do not always know what they mean, or why God decided that they should happen.
Earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, flooding etc. Natural disasters that cause devastation, havoc and destruction. Is this the beginning of the apocalypse?
Even when extraordinary events happen these displays of majesty bring tragedy in their wake, we recognize that there is a Divine hand orchestrating all that happens. Nothing happens by accident. The shifting of continental plates or the formation of tropical storms are all part of God’s great plan. These events serve to bring into focus how small we are in comparison to the Creator-of-All.
These events do not need to bring us to thoughts of the end of the world. Rather they should lead us to understand that, in the final analysis, everything in the world is orchestrated by God, the source of absolute goodness. [Mendy Kaminker]
What is the “End of Days”? The term “End of Days” is taken from Numbers 24:14. This has always been taken as a reference to the Messianic era.
The Messianic Era - All the nations of the world will recognize Moshiach (the annointed one) to be a world leader, and will accept his dominion. In the Messianic era there will be world peace, no more wars nor famine, and, in general, a high standard of living.
All mankind will worship one God, and live a more spiritual and moral way of life.
The coming of Messiah will complete God’s purpose in creation: for man to make an abode for God in the lower worlds—that is, to reveal the inherent spirituality in the material world.
Is this not a utopian dream? With the correct leadership, humankind can and will change. The leadership quality of Moshiach (Messiah) means that through his dynamic personality and example, coupled with manifest humility, he will inspire all people to strive for good. He will transform a seemingly utopian dream into a reality. He will be recognized as a man of God, with greater leadership qualities than even Moses.
In today’s society, many people are repulsed by the breakdown of ethical and moral standards. Life is cheap, crime is rampant, drug and alcohol abuse are on the increase, children have lost respect for their elders. At the same time, technology has advanced in quantum leaps. There is no doubt that today man has all the resources—if channeled correctly—to create a good standard of living for all mankind. He lacks only the social and political will. Moshiach will inspire all wo/men to fulfill that aim.
Why the belief in a human Messiah? Some people believe that the world will “evolve” by itself into a messianic era without a human figurehead. Judaism rejects this belief. Human history has been dominated by empire builders greedy for power.
Our prophets speak of the advent of a human leader, of a magnitude that the world has not yet experienced. His unique example and leadership will inspire mankind to change direction.
What will become of the world as we know it? Initially, there will be no change in the world order, other than its readiness to accept Messianic rule. All the nations of the world will strive to create a new world order, in which there will be no more wars or conflicts. Jealousy, hatred, greed and political strife (of the negative kind) will disappear, and all human beings will strive only for goodness, kindness and peace.In the Messianic era there will be great advances in technology, allowing a high standard of living. Food will be plentiful and cheap.
However, the focus of human aspiration will be the pursuit of the “knowledge of God.” People will become less materialistic and more spiritual. [Nissan D. Dubov]
So rather than wait for the inevitable we can be an agent of change in how we choose to address these events. The world and the universe is established base on cycles. One cycle ends and another begins. And so it begins.
An interesting thought by Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell;
"Will the world end in 2012? First, which world? The physical one or our spiritual ones within ourselves? Second, what is the definition of "end"? It could be a big explosion of the earth, or it could be a natural disaster. Third, every day the world ends for someone, (when they die). Physically, even if we have a nuclear explosion, the whole world will not end. It will only become human-extinct. The world (earth) will end when our sun gives out and becomes a black hole or if a meteor hits the earth so hard it pushes it out of the sun's orbit".
In conclusion, always remain the eternal optimist. Even in what may seem to be the darkest hour, one should hope, pray and look toward a brighter future - a world of peace and spirituality filled with human positivity of goodness and kindness, charity and blessings.
The earth was established by God not to be moved and that its foundation was and is and will always be set by God. God has declared that there is no other power over His creation than His power!
Things don't just happen by a chain of linear causality. There is design behind the cosmos and that design is not inevitable. When God did bring everything into existence, He did it with a desire to be found within His creation and He invested His entire being into that desire. A conscious Creator with a design in mind - for a constructive purposeful universe filled with His glory.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
The power of words has a ripple effect in our life and those around us.
Words have tremendous power. On many occasions our words are uttered without conscious thought; in fact we rarely stop and think about what we are saying. Often, however, we are oblivious to the positive or negative effect these words have on ourselves and the people around us.
Everything you say creates a reaction in others and produces an effect in the world.
People must take control of their words, rather than letting their words control them. Be more conscious of your thoughts and words and the power they unleash.
Your words can determine your destiny. Even more importantly, your words can make a positive difference on the people you interact with every day. What you say will create a positive or negative ripple effect by speaking out these words. Be determined to unleash the power of words for positive change. [Barbra White]
Words are like arrows, says the Psalmist, and like smoldering coals. Like arrows, explains the Midrash, for a man stands in one place and his words wreak havoc on another’s life many miles away. And like a coal whose outer surface has been extinguished but whose interior remains aflame, so too do malevolent words continue to work their damage long after their external effect has evaporated.
Words kill in many ways. Sometimes they set in motion a chain of events that turn them into a self-fulfilling prophecy; sometimes they are deflected off the object of their venom, to strike some innocent bystander; and sometimes they return like a boomerang to pursue their originator. By whatever route they travel, hateful words inevitably lead to hateful actions, possibly years or even generations after they are uttered. Human nature is such that thoughts strive to find expression in spoken words, and spoken words seek realization in deeds—often by circuitous paths that the original utterer of those words neither desired nor anticipated.
But the power of the word runs deeper than its potential to translate into action. Even if this potential is never realized, even if the spoken words never materialize in the “world of action,” they still exist in the higher, more spiritual “world of speech.” For man is not only a body, but also a soul; he is not only a physical being, but also a spiritual creature. On the physical plane, spoken words may be significant only as potential actions; in the soul’s reality, they are actual.
Every word we utter is real, whether or not it comes to fruition in the “world of action” in which our physical self resides. On a higher, more spiritual plane of reality—a reality as real to our soul as the physical reality is to our physical self—our every word is as good (and as bad) as done.
The same is true, of course, in the positive sense: a word of praise, a word of encouragement is as good (and as good) as done in the spiritual reality of the soul. Even before a good word has yielded a good deed, it has already had a profound and lasting effect upon the inner state of ourselves and our world. [Yanki Tauber]
King Solomon said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). Every day, we are shaping reality for someone by the words that we use with them. The choice is ours.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Creation's Double Vision - Forseeing The Final Result
All beginnings are difficult. Starting a job, starting school, starting a marriage, starting dinner, starting new cleaning help - even starting the day! We find beginnings difficult because a new beginning requires a change. What went before wasn't good enough. Whether we're changing from one thing to another - from one job to another, for example - or from a "nothing" state to a "something" state - from not being married to being married - we have to change. And change requires effort; we have to overcome our inertia. In order to change we have to begin. And beginning requires an act of will. We resist beginning until we want to begin. (How many times have we resisted getting out of bed in the morning to start the day until we simply decided to get up - for no apparent reason?)
This explains the difficulty of beginning: we not only have to begin, we have to begin to begin. That is, before we can start something, we have to envision it as complete, whole, finished. From where we are we have to see where we will be. We cannot imagine what we want superficially, not if we want it to be real. We have to see the details. We must anticipate not only how the thing will work but also how it will get made and how we will feel about it. We have to have a goal, a business plan.
So not only must we actually start the project - get the materials, follow the instructions, do all the little things to open the store or assemble the bookcase - we must build it virtually, so to speak, construct it in our minds. Even before we begin, we must have begun. Even as we build, we must imaginatively have already built.
In a sense, creation requires double vision. We must foresee the final result, the completed product. We must envision the end of the process, indeed, what will be after we finish that which we've begun. But the level of insight never becomes real; we constantly anticipate but never arrive. In fact, as long we see the end, as long as we live - mentally - after the fact we not only never get there, we don't ever start. We "begin to begin" - we have constantly in mind the final moment after; but we never actually start.
Thus we have to see differently. We have to see beyond the will-be, or rather, we have to look closer than the yet-to-be. We have to perceive the process. We have to "just do it," to live in the middle, to experience the unfolding of the initial point.
The first type of beginning conceals; it's the goal, the thought in mind, the future already real but never reached. The second type of beginning reveals; it's the start, the origin, the potential for progress and the development of details.
But we don't have two eyes to see double. That strains the muscles and drains the mind. We have two eyes so that we can see holistically, integrate our vision (of the future) and perception (of the here and now). When the two become one - when the inner reality becomes outwardly manifest - then we live in the time of Shabbat, the time of perfect vision.
That's the goal of Creation, of course, to see Godliness. And in the era of Moshiach (Messiah) the whole world will experience it, will be filled with knowledge of the Lord. [lchaimweekly.org]
Monday, June 4, 2012
The Queen sets sail on the luxury barge with the Duke of Edinburgh and waved to the thousands of people gathered on the banks of the Thames
Queen Elizabeth II sparkles on her day for the Diamond Jubilee.
LONDON's gloomy skies and chilly air were never going to rain on the Queen's parade.
And so it proved overnight when all of Britain - and much of the world - celebrated her 60-year reign in style.
The Queen has sailed down the River Thames on a luxury barge festooned with flowers, amid a motley but majestic flotilla of 1000 vessels mustered to mark her 60 years on the throne.
Hundreds of thousands of Union Jack-waving spectators formed a red, white and blue wave along London's riverbanks and bridges, cheering the 86-year-old monarch and her armada of motorboats, rowboats and sailboats of all shapes and sizes.
The pageant was a nod to Britain's maritime heritage and one of the biggest events on the river for centuries.
The Queen wore a silver and white dress and matching coat - embroidered with gold, silver and ivory spots and embellished with Swarovski crystals to evoke the river - for her trip aboard the barge Spirit of Chartwell, decorated for the occasion in rich red, gold and purple velvet.
Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge - he in his Royal Air Force uniform, she in a red Alexander McQueen dress - and William's brother, Prince Harry, were among senior royals who joined the Queen and Prince Philip.
After a celebratory peal of bells, the boat set off downstream at a stately four knots (7.4km/h), accompanied by skiffs, barges, narrow boats, kayaks, gondolas, dragon boats and even a replica Viking longboat.
The flotilla was sailing past some of the city's great landmarks - including the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and St Paul's Cathedral - before ending its journey near Tower Bridge.
Downriver, ships too tall to fit under London's bridges were moored along both banks of the river.
Before Queen Elizabeth II took the voyage of a lifetime in her diamond jubilee pageant, her son raised his voice to lead the tributes to the monarch in song.
Attending the jubilee's biggest and most luxurious street party in Piccadilly, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall joined a 500-strong crowd for a sit-down lunch.
Monday, May 21, 2012
There are many great men and women who have distinguished themselves in public service. What is it that allows them to succeed where others fail?
To paint with a very broad brush, one can suggest that there are two different types of failed politicians.
The first type is the straight-out villain, who is unashamedly out to feather his or her own nest. They might talk the good talk in public; they might make all the right noises about transparency and accountability while trying to get elected. But get to know them personally, and you’ll quickly be disabused of the notion that there is a single altruistic fiber in their being.
A subset of this first class is the incompetent bungler who is wily enough to make his way into politics despite his ineptitude, and has guile enough to stay there for decades, battening at the public purse. They would never survive in the commercial world, where people are judged by results and where failure is rewarded by dismissal, not a pension for life.
The second type of failed politician is the honest, well-meaning, truly dedicated man or woman who wants to make a difference and leave a positive influence on the world. They try hard in the common cause, and sacrifice their health and family life in their dedication to their constituents. They are certainly well-intentioned, but seldom enjoy longevity. Like moths consumed by the flame of their own altruism, they tend to quickly burn out and, all too soon, disappear from public life, having run out of ideas and finding it impossible to maintain their high standards.
A true leader rises above the divide between either of these options. Their focus is on serving others, but they do not forget the need for self-actualization and self-improvement in the process.
A leader is a luminary, filling the room with the light of his own personality. Leadership is the act of being there for others, and impacting their lives for the better.
But a leader cannot just talk the talk to others; he has to become a paradigm of excellence in his own right.
We all have the capacity for accomplishment, and the responsibility and ability to lead. Our main purpose in life is to reach out and bring the light in to the hearts and minds of all. However, we have a concomitant responsibility to ensure that our own spiritual house is in order and that we live up to the ideals that we publicly espouse. If we can operate on these two fronts as one, then we have lived up to the standards of following in this path of goodness. [Elisha Greenbaum]
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Morality Without God
Is it possible to achieve a moral and ethical society while leaving God out of the equation? Many today maintain that not only is this eminently possible, but morality which is not predicated on religion is a far better alternative to ethics that stem from blind adherence to a particular canon. The human heart, they argue, inherently possesses a moral compass. Religion all too often warps this inborn sense of right and wrong, and is simply another outdated device that enlightened societies can do without.
To address this issue, we must first take a brief dip into the deep waters of human psychology and anthropology. What indeed is the source of the natural moral compass, and why do certain people seem to lack this quality? And how is it that a creature which is naturally selfish, motivated above all by self preservation and aggrandizement, should also be naturally kind and concerned for the welfare of others?
An analysis of those people who engage in cruel and oppressive acts clarifies the issue. As a rule, these are people who are in power who torment the helpless - tyrants bullying their victims, a nation's ruling ethnic group persecuting a weak minority, soldiers on the battlefield viciously mistreating their enemy, or, to a lesser degree, politicians corruptly misusing their office. In all instances, the oppressors are confident in their power and positions, and feel themselves to be immune from retribution, certain that their victims can never repay them in kind.
The rest of us are horrified by the immoral acts of these despotic individuals. Are we outraged because we are better people, or because we are not as of yet in power? Our righteous indignation upon hearing of incidence of murder, violence and injustice - are they perhaps due to a subconscious fear that we could, God forbid, be the next victims? Can it be said that our "moral compass" is nothing more than another self-preservation mechanism designed to protect ourselves from a society that could potentially descend into a state of anarchy in the absence of law and order?
Without compunction we trap mice and crush roaches that dare invade our homes. Why? Because we do not fear invading battalions of armed avenging rodents or insects. What if we viewed another segment of the population in a similar light? No, this is not simply remote conjecture; this actually occurred in a highly enlightened and civilized society less than a century ago!
And here is the scariest thought: even if our society as a whole never again deteriorates to that dreadful point, what if in our personal lives we encounter a situation wherein we feel completely secure in doing an immoral act, confident that the victim will never know who wronged him, or certain that he will never have the means to retaliate?
Maimonides writes (Laws of Kings 9:11):
"One who accepts the Seven Noahide Laws and is meticulous in their observance is from the righteous of the nations of the world and has a share in the World-to-Come -- provided that he does so because God commanded so in the Torah. . . If, however, he observes them because his mind so dictates, he is not from the righteous of the nations nor is he from their wise ones [alternative version: rather he is from their wise ones]."
Perhaps Maimonides himself penned both versions. They are both equally correct.
A society is wise to adopt the Seven Noahide Laws (seven universal laws, which include prohibitions against murder, theft, etc.) as part of their legal system. They are prudent laws that form the basis of a moral legal code. These laws are wise whether or not they are observed with the proper intentions.
Ultimately, however, it is not wise to follow these moral principles independent of their Giver. Such a moral system may work for most of the people most of the time, but inevitably it will fail -- either society-wide, or in the individual lives of citizens in certain situations. Absolute morality can only be a product of the unchanging realization that there is an absolute Divine "eye that sees, ear that hears, and all your actions are chronicled in a ledger."
Perhaps our Founding Fathers recognized this truth when they opened the Declaration of Independence with the words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." A return to this idea would go a long way towards improving our nation's moral fabric. [Naftali Silberberg]
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
From the time you begin to breathe, a war rages within.
From the time you attain citizenship of this world, you must struggle with your own frailties to stand upright, as a human being was meant to stand.
From the time you yearn to reach higher, you must engage the animal that comes dressed within this meat and bones, to carry it up with you. You must play its own game on its own turf, speak to it in its own language, meditate upon those matters that can inspire it, bear with it until you can bring it to the side of peace.
You must descend to a place of chaos and madness to redeem yourself from there.
And so this battle plays out not only in the spiritual arena of meditation and prayer, but also in the very human world of eating your meal, of raising a family, of worldly pursuits, infiltrating that world so as to conquer it, to rip away its veil and reveal the Godly sparks it contains, as Jacob dressed in the clothes of Esau, wrestling with his angel on the cold, sodden earth of a night to which he does not belong.
Yet at all times and in every situation you retain access to a point of perfect oneness within, a place where there is no opposition to fight, no choices that could be made, no existence at all, nothing other than “the Creator of all things to whom I am bound as one.”
It is not the battle that defines you, nor the role in which you must invest yourself, nor the opponent with whom you fight. You are none of these. You are that point of peace within.
And so, even your battle is in peace.
There is no greater Divine blessing than peace.[Lubavitcher Rebbe]
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
The Gift Of Friendship
Friendship is a Golden Chain,
The links are friends so dear,
And like a rare and precious jewel
It's treasured more each year...
It's clasped together firmly
With a love that's deep and true,
And it's rich with happy memories
And fond recollections, too...
Time can't destroy its beauty
For, as long as memory lives,
Years can't erase the pleasure
That the joy of friendship gives...
For friendship is a priceless gift
That can't be bought or sold,
But to have an understanding friend
Is worth far more than gold...
And the Golden Chain of Friendship
Is a strong and blessed tie
Binding kindred hearts together
As the years go passing by...
Friendship is a priceless gift
That can't be bought or sold,
But its value is far greater
Than a mountain made of gold...
For gold is cold and lifeless,
It cannot see nor hear,
And in your times of trouble,
It is powerless to cheer...
It has no ears to listen,
No heart to understand.
It cannot bring you comfort
Or reach out a helping hand...
So when you ask God for a gift,
Be thankful that he sends,
Not diamonds, pearls, or riches,
But the love of a real, true friend...
[Helen Steiner Rice]
Friday, February 17, 2012
Mystical tradition explains that thought – as opposed to speech and action – is the mode of human expression that never ceases. If one wishes to avoid a certain way of speaking or acting, he can merely choose not to speak or not to act. If one, however, wants to expel an undesirable thought from the mind, he cannot just stop thinking. He must actively choose to think about something else, for the mind is never truly empty.
In the absence of productive thoughts, the mind plays host to self-made demons of destructive thinking. Just like the kind of flour a mill produces depends on the grist placed within it, the mind turns out feelings and behaviors according to the ideas it actively entertains.
The alcoholic or addict in recovery knows all too well the troubles of an overactive mind. Our mental mills are fast and frenetic. We, therefore, endeavor to maintain constant vigilance over our thoughts, actively choosing such thinking that we would like to dwell upon and quickly replacing thoughts that tend to do us in. This requires alertness. But if we are lax about what kind of thoughts we allow ourselves to entertain, we find later that our sloppiness in this area costs us dearly. While thinking is free, its effects can levy a steep toll; it affects our serenity, our usefulness and our conscious contact with God.
We mustn't forget that our disease is not only a physical allergy to alcohol or drugs, but a mental disorder as well. Thus, even in sobriety, when alcohol and drugs don't enter our system, we still must fend with the psychological aspect of our illness. If we are not sufficiently watchful, our own minds quickly unleash their arsenal of self-destruction—unleashing devastating mental weapons of resentment, fear and self-obsession.
So we watch ourselves closely, quickly identifying the beginning of a negative thought pattern before it spirals so far out of control that we are actually convinced of its worthiness or urgency. In our daily Tenth Step we may ask ourselves whether we have endeavored to have holy, pure and selfless thoughts. Conversely, we ask ourselves whether we have been sufficiently watchful about quickly displacing negative thinking. When we closely monitor our thoughts and judge ourselves swiftly and relentlessly in this matter, we find that the effort expended is well worth the reward. Our energetic minds are just as capable of creating heaven on earth—as they have already been proven capable of the alternative. [Ben A]