One Universal Ethical Basis For Us All

בסיעתא דשמיא

The world's existence is preserved through 3 things;Torah study, Prayer & Kind Deeds. For society to flourish mankind as a whole must come to appreciate the importance of, Truth, Justice & Peace & conduct itself accordingly. Within the great Family of Man, each individual has his or her path within a path. Yet there is ONE Universal ethical basis for us all. Accept upon yourself the responsibility for peace & oneness in our world - world peace as a value goal. That will herald in a new era & a renewed world. A world of truth, wisdom, harmony & peace!

"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it ."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Deposing A Dictator And Transforming Nations

Never underestimate the power of a simple, pure deed done from the heart.

The world is not changed by men who move mountains, nor by those who lead the revolutions, nor by those whose purse strings tie up the world.

Dictators are deposed, oppression is dissolved, entire nations are transformed by a few precious acts of beauty performed by a handful of unknown soldiers.

In fact, it was encoded by Maimonides in his code of law, "Each person must see himself as though the entire world were held in balance and any deed he may do could tip the scales." [Lubavitcher Rebbe]

There are good regimes and evil ones. Sometimes the leaders of good regimes are greedy and corrupt and need to be prosecuted, but the motivations and governing principles of these nations are not evil.
And then there are "evil empires," whose nations are led by dictators, because the masses are rarely innately evil – are on a pathological ego trip. Their goal is to dominate others. They have successfully forced their own populations into submission, and now they are drunk for more.
It seems then, that the Torah's account teaches us that you don't negotiate with evil. Idealistically speaking, this is because negotiating with evil lends legitimacy to an illegitimate entity. Practically speaking, the evil party won't negotiate in good faith. If he's evil, if he's rotten to the core, then he'll always be looking to undermine you and will pounce at you when the moment is opportune.
An individual or entity that thinks that power is the answer to all will only be vanquished through a stronger demonstration of power. [Naftali Silberberg]

The process of nation building is our own. We need to have the will to transform our own natures. It's all in our own making.
We are engaged in thousands of interactions, choices, and decisions each day. Unlike an animal, which is preprogrammed to perform in a particular manner, the human has free will to choose how he will respond, react, and deal with every situation.

We bring down God's goodness to earth by training our souls to love the good and that which is creative and useful and to refrain from all that which is destructive.

It is our human duty towards our fellow man and woman to act with ♥Love ♥Kindness ♥Mercy and ♥Peace between one person and another, between body and the soul and between the human being and God. All are necessary for blessing, and God needs all of us, regardless of attributes, to make the world.

Behaviour is contagious and it spreads from person to person. Good acts by a handful of individuals really can make a difference. Pay it forward.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seek Peace And Pursue It

There is nothings as good as peace and as bad as disputes.

David declared "Seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:15).
The Sages comment,  “Seek peace for your loved ones and pursue it for your enemies; seek peace where you live and pursue it elsewhere; seek peace with your body and pursue it with your resources; seek peace for yourself and pursue it for others; seek peace today and pursue it tomorrow.’’

This final exhortation means that one should never despair of making peace; rather he should pursue it today, and then tomorrow and then the next day...until he attains it.

If thick ropes which pull a wagon are strained regularly they will become weak, and eventually will tear. So it is with strife. If one does not succeed in making peace on his first or second attempt, nevertheless, he should not abandon his pursuit of this sacred achievement. Ultimately his words will accomplish. If he will have no effect at all on the quarrelers, because they have become overpowered by the appetite for triumph and are blind to the truth, he may be able to influence those who have been drawn into a quarrel that is not their own. In this way he will save them from  the bitter retribution which results from strife, in the way of Moses who saved Ohn and Korach's sons. [Chofetz Chaim]

By perservereance and patience one can beat all impossible odds even when one thinks they can't do it and all seems hopeless - where there's a will there is always a way.

We should understand that peace and loving others run along the same lines. How is that? Because it’s only through loving others that one could guarantee that there will always be peace among them. This could be learned from Ethics Of Our Fathers, 1;12 which states “Be among the disciples of Aaron, loving peace, pursuing peace and loving others.” Why does  it state “loving peace” - what’s the connection to peace? The answer is that as a result of loving and pursuing peace one will come to love his fellow beings. This should be every man and woman's deepest and truest strivings.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Slave To Your Surroundings

Sometimes a person does not realize that he is a slave to his surroundings. He commits improper acts, he is sold to his money-making, he is possessed by a desire for honor, and is a prisoner to his desires. By awakening the fiery love of God imbued in one’s soul, one frees oneself from slavery.

We are limited by the very fact that we have human form. There is no freedom in following our whim, only further slavery to our own limited selves. Freedom can only come by connecting to something infinite and beyond us.
[Lubavitcher Rebbe] 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Blessings Of Financial Problems

By Rivka Levy

Why our financial problems were one of the best things that ever happened to us.

I wrote all the blessings down – and I was astounded by how many bona fide good things had come about as a result of our not having two shekels to rub together. I got such a good feeling off my ‘being in debt’ list, that I decided to share it with you, and also to invite you to add to it, in the Comments section at the end of the article.

Get ready to be truly grateful for your money problems….

Why? Because….

1. They ‘pay off’ our spiritual debts

Everyone sins. Even righteous people sin. It’s part of being human. Financial debts are a great and relatively painless way of paying down the ‘spiritual mortgage’ that we all have. And once that big spiritual debt is paid off, an hour a day of personal prayer will make sure you don’t slide into a massive ‘spiritual minus’ again.

2. They are the easiest way to do a serious soul correction

Why? Because it’s only money, and money comes as easily as it goes. One day you make a million, the next day you lose it; the day after that, you make two million. God has all the money in the world, and He can just as easily give it as take it away. Money is not a serious health issue, God forbid, or a terrible relationship with your spouse. It’s not a kid who’s going seriously off the straight and narrow – all of which are infinitely more painful, difficult and heart-wrenching than a big overdraft at the bank.

Does it bother us to be poor? Sure. Does it bother us enough to do some serious soul-searching? Usually, yes – which is why it’s one of God’s favorite ploys for encouraging people to get closer to Him, and to re-evaluate their lives.

3. They spur us on to make repentance

Before I had serious money problems, I never dressed modestly. My husband never made a point of learning. We never ‘spoke’ to God; we never tried to see God in our lives, and to acknowledge Him.

Once we hit skid row, I started trying to talk to God every day, and my husband joined a religious seminary for men. Once I understood ‘Who’ was behind my financial woes, I was prepared to change – a lot – to try to alleviate the situation. My bank balance goes up and down – but all that amazing repentance(returning to God) stuck. I’m doing far more deeds than ever before, and Thank God, they are all going to stand me in good stead when I get Upstairs.

4. They helped me to stop spoiling my kids

When I had to start saying ‘no’ to my kids – and meaning it – my kids got so much more appreciative of all the things they were actually bought. Also, getting things became a joyous occasion, as opposed to a routine event. We also started to think about whether the things they wanted were actually good for them, as opposed to just ‘nice to have’. Did they really need that ultra-fashionable $100 rucksack for school? Err, no. Did they really need 24 pairs of shoes? Err, no. Was it really useful for my four year old to be doing extra-curricular English, ballet and drama every week? Err, no.

Lastly, it also taught my kids that you don’t need shopping and ‘things’ to be happy – which is almost the biggest present we could have given them.

5. They helped me to stop buying things I don’t need

Ok, put your hands up: who here has an ice cream maker they use once a year? Or a pasta machine that’s still in the box? Or a juicer that sounded like a great idea but is too much of a hassle to clean?

Who here is struggling to contain all the clutter of unnecessary, surplus-to-requirement things that is threatening to swamp their whole house?

Too many ‘things’ block God’s light, and weigh very heavily on our souls. Now I don’t have a lot of money, I only buy the things that I really, really need. And it’s such a relief…

6. They helped me to reassess what I was doing with my life

For the first time ever, I had to ask myself: “am I working to live, or living to work?” For the first time ever, I also realized that there was a ‘cost’ to having more money, namely, an increasingly strained relationship with my husband; ever-mounting stress; very unhealthy eating habits, as I didn’t have time to cook; and miserable kids who hardly ever saw me when I wasn’t preoccupied or exhausted. The price of having more money was simply too high – so I quit my soul-destroying job.

7. They got us to move to a much more ‘suitable’ community

If we would have been able to pay the mortgage, I would never have considered moving out of my massive house – in the wrong neighborhood. Thank God, we couldn’t pay the mortgage and had to downsize to a place that was much more ‘us’, religiously.

8. They humbled us

As the famous dictum says, God can’t be with an arrogant person. But once you lose all your cash, a lot of your arrogance disappears with it – and that’s when you’ve finally got some space in your soul for God.

9. They taught us the limits of ‘working hard’

So many of us are taught that hard work can accomplish anything – but it’s rubbish. You can work as hard as you like, and if God doesn’t want you to succeed, you won’t. Conversely, you can make the minimum effort necessary, and if God wants it to work, you’ll achieve amazing things.

Once we realized that working even harder was not the answer to solving our financial problems, it took the pressure off us to ‘do’ more. Wow, you mean I’ll still have livelihood if I don’t work 24/7 and throw my Blackberry in the garbage? I don’t have to always say‘yes’ to the boss or client when they ask me to stay late or work weekends? Things will actually get done if I don’t do them? Yup. You just need a bit of faith.

10. They helped us to experience miracles

We have seen so many miracles since we’ve had money problems. Some of them are more ‘hidden’, like the fact that my husband has a great job that still lets him learn part-time; or the way that we’ve bought and sold houses in Israel so easily, and always at a profit.

But we’ve had other miracles, too. Like the 90,000 shekel tax rebate that appeared out of nowhere; or the 7,000 shekel unexpected bonus that came just when we needed it.

Each time we experience a miracle, it reinforces our faith that God really is running the world, and that He’s looking after us. That, in turn, makes it easier to ‘let go’ of all the money stuff, and just do our best to learn Torah, grow our faith and enjoy our lives, because for as long as God wants us around, it’s on His expense account.
Now, over to you – what blessings have you experienced as a result of your money problems?

Monday, December 12, 2011

War And Peace, The Opposing Forces Within

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. [Lubavitcher Rebbe]

Friday, December 9, 2011

Money Creation Is A Useful Productive Fiction

Everyone uses money. We all want it, work for it and think about it. If you don't know what money is, you are not like most humans. However, the task of defining what money is, where it comes from and what it's worth belongs to those who dedicate themselves to the discipline of economics. While the creation and growth of money seems somewhat intangible, money is the way we get the things we need and want.

Money is actually nothing but worthless paper created and handed out to us to make us believe we are working for something of value. But money has no value. Even the Treasury admits this, “modern money is known as ‘fiat money’, it is artificially created, has no value in itself and the basis in its use for exchange is typically a government edict.” – FOI request to HM Treasury.

Money has no value because it can be created and there is NO LIMIT to how much can be created. The reason gold and silver have value is because there is a limit. If we want more gold somebody has to go and mine it, and there is only a certain amount of gold available in the world. If a country needs more money all the central bank has to do is type a few numbers into a computer and that’s it, instant money.

Money actually never existed, it was created by the bank and written into existence. The money was created from a debt. This is important to understand because it means that every note and coin you own is actually a debt that somebody owes to somebody else. Without debt there is no money.

Money is basically debt, because without debt, someone taking out a loan, there is no money creation. Money is created from loans.  []

Money was once valued by the worth of goods, but today it is our goods that are valued by their worth in money.
Every dollar is loaned into existence hence debt came into being.

Money is not a real object, its value is abstract, and controlling large sums of it is imaginary wealth.

Five Things About Money
Money is a fiction. Money is a useful fiction, it's even a productive fiction, but it isn't real. All it is is a commonly held consensus that a digital record stored in the computers of some financial institution, or the equity of a certain property registered in our name, represents a value of X in goods and services. We build further fictions upon this fiction (like the fiction of an anticipated return from an investment) and more fictions upon those fictions (like the fiction of the leverage value of the anticipated return of an investment). Some financial "wizards" have "succeeded" in perpetuating the fiction of money to the 5th or 6th or 7th degree. But no matter how many times you layer over the fiction, it's still a fiction. And when that consensus unravels, when the collective confidence in the fiction of money begins to slip, then we're left with.... nothing.
Money is not a measure of worth. A man wakes up in the morning, logs in to his accounts, checks a few numbers, makes a few calculations, and reaches the conclusion that as of 7:42 am of this particular day on the calendar he is "worth" fifty million dollars. Or $1,308,772.45. Or twenty-five cents. Whatever. And then a certain market halfway across the globe hiccups in a certain way, and now he's "worth" double that?
Really? Is he now a better person? Is he now happier? More loving to his family, kinder to strangers, more fulfilled in his heart? And if, God forbid, the market gives another hiccup and the digits in his portfolio are suddenly half or a quarter of what they were yesterday, now he's "worth" that much less?

Money is a means, not an end. For years we lived for money. We worked to earn it, and when that wasn't enough we worked overtime or took a second job, and expended anxious hours and sleepless nights to manage it and "grow" it. We sacrificed everything – family, community, peace of mind – for our money. And where is all that money now? Turns out that we never had it in the first place – it had us. We learned the hard way (but is there any other way to learn?) that money is a tool for life—not the other way around.

What we give is more ours than what we gain. The money we make never truly belongs to us. It either disappears into thin air at some point, or it saps our strength and steals our lives. But every hour spent with our children, every dollar we give to charity, every positive endeavor we support—these can never be taken from us. They are ours forever.

The true meaning of financial security. For thousands of years, people got up in the morning, worked the land or toiled at their craft, collected a day's earnings or a season's harvest, and lived their lives. Their sense of security derived not from their bank accounts and stock portfolios, but from the confidence that the same God who created them and placed them upon this earth also provides their means of sustenance. No, there are no free lunches falling down from the heavens – after all, God created us to be His partners in the business of life, not free-loading guests – but if we do our part, God will do His.

Life has become more complicated since those simple days, more sophisticated, and yes, more rewarding. Today, "doing our part" means not just getting a job, but also acquiring mortgages, insurance plans, retirement accounts and a slew of other "financial instruments." But the basic equation remains the same: we do our part to better God's world, and God does His part in providing us the means to do so. It is to this partnership with our Creator that we have learned to look as our source of happiness, fulfillment and security. [Yanki Tauber]

Money is needed in this day and age to provide even for the simple things.
Everything we have in this physical world is temporary. There are no pockets in shrouds.

Money is not to be worshipped as an idol on which your happiness, value, or even your sustenance can be depended upon. Never forget where the financial resources came from in the first place. Our truest wealth is our priceless heritage. We should all remember that it is God that provideds that money-or next meal-or a warm place to stay. Money is only a tool, and only one of many, that God can use to provide for our needs!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Princess And The Peasant

There is a parable about the princess who married a peasant. Her father the king had interviewed a variety of suitors and none qualified. Finally he said: "Let the next man who walks in the door be your husband." And she agreed. And the next one to walk in was the gardener from the estates of the king, and they had to get married. He was so happy and she was devastated. But this was the situation. And they got married, and he prepared the house and he put straw on the benches where they were going to sleep, and she was not happy. And the next day he brought her potatoes and she wasn't happy, and he brought her the best tomatoes from the best of the fields, until she came back to her father and said: "Look, how can I explain to him that I am from the palace of the king? He can't offer me what I need because he has no concept that it exists."

This is a parable of the soul who married the body. The body is the peasant, offering us Wall Street and condominiums and success and power and all other kinds of potatoes and tomatoes. The soul goes to God and says: this peasant is not giving me what I need.

Most of us live thinking that we are the peasant. That is why however much we have it is never enough. Because we are feeding ourselves the wrong thing. It can be everything the peasant has ever dreamed of, but it's still not enough because the princess has been raised on finer stuff.

The teachings of the Chassidic masters allow us to access the consciousness of the princess. They opens our eyes to the fact that we often go through life thinking that we are something we are not, and therefore pursue things that aren't going to give us satisfaction. I had been very involved in academic thought and when I first heard the Lubavitcher Rebbe's teachings. I realized for the first time that there could be someone who completely transcends me. Coming to that point was shattering to my intellect. Until then I knew there could be a person who was like me but more intelligent, or like me but more sensitive. But when I was exposed to the Rebbe's teachings, it was the first time that I encountered someone on a completely different level. I remember sitting in classes in which the Rebbe's discourses were taught and walking out not being able to drive my car home. The Rebbe shattered my axioms about the world. Nothing else did that. This was a changing of one's whole consciousness; changing one's action was just the beginning.

Even though I didn't know what was going on inside, somehow I realized that this tree that can be planted on my own soil, that this will work with my own inner functioning. That was on an intuitive level. On more of an intellectual level, what was important was having access to the Rebbe's teachings, and seeing that his questions began where all my answers had left off.

I believe that throughout our life there are always these essence-questions that we don't even realize we are asking. There are root questions, but we are only aware of the branches. We ask a question and the words that come out are the branches. If we don't know that there's a root, we can be deluded into thinking that we can address the branch. And we will never be happy because there will always be another branch growing out from the root. We need spiritual mentors to make us aware of what our root questions are. [Shimona Tzukernik]

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bankruptcy Of Leadership - Living In A World Of Corruption And Untruth

Realness. Authenticity. Sincerity.

Are these all lost qualities in our day and age?

As you look around you, do you ever feel that our world is full of such hypocrisy, such pretense, such phoniness that it seeps into every facet of our lives?

Our sages call our world a world full of falsehood, where the true perspective and value is often upside down.

Our political leaders reek of it. And unfortunately, often enough, even spiritual, religious or moral leaders don't fare much better.

How often are those very same people who espouse such high values and morals exposed for their own downright unethical behaviour? Spiritual and religious mentors teaching lofty concepts such as kindness, humility and transcendence are in their own day-to-day lives, behind the glare of the limelight, found to have the greatest, thirstiest egos.

So is there anyone out there who is really real?

Of course there are the exceptions—some great leaders and spiritual mentors who lead sterling lives of goodness, humility and kindness. But still, the grand picture that emerges for the most part is quite unpretty. In fact, I think some of the kindest and most sincere people I've ever met—the ones who I'd consider really "real"—were the simplest, least sophisticated types who weren't out to prove themselves to anyone. They weren't seeking a communal reputation as a "do gooder" nor the most social ballots for leadership. They didn't need to prove themselves as "religiously" moral and exacting or adhering to the law. They were just simply nice, kind, honest people seeking to do what's right, largely unrecognized for their simple greatness.

I'm often asked with all the hypocrisy in our world, with all these spiritual people acting so unspiritual, with all these unkind acts done in the name of religion, in such a climate, how does one remain "religious"? Doesn't it ever turn you off from "religion"?

It can.

Or it can turn you on to "real religion."

Precisely in moments when I feel such a bankruptcy of leadership, such a deficiency in truth and realism, does it make me personally want to bypass this whole façade, the whole pretense and cut to the core.

To the Reality beyond it all.

This has all been predicted long ago by our sages (Tractate Sotah): "In the time period before Messiah arrives, there will be no one on whom to rely, other than our Father in heaven." And (Sanhedrin): "Messiah will not arrive until there will be no leaders in Israel."

Surrounded by falseness, living in a world of corruption and untruth—perhaps there is really only one place to turn to seek the inherent truth of all existence.

The Creator of all Reality. And the only true Reality.

Real Realness. [Chana Weisberg] 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We Are All Part Of A Universal Mutual Fund

Social Responsibility

A feature of modern life is the practice of purchasing insurance against a variety of unforeseeable circumstances. When a person takes out an insurance policy, he or she is, in effect, joining a group of people who have agreed to be responsible for each other's misfortunes. Should one of them suffer a loss, God forbid, he is compensated from funds generated by the premiums paid by all.

The lesson to be derived is obvious: if such a consensus can be achieved regarding material concerns, how much more so should it be applied to our moral and spiritual selves. We should all consider ourselves part of a universal mutual fund: if a fellow human being lacks something, be it food and shelter or knowledge and guidance, even if he is halfway across the globe and one has never heard his name or that of the city in which he resides, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to satisfy his need. [M.M Schneerson]

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Destiny In Which Steve Jobs Played A Principal Role

Steve Jobs: Change We Learned To Believe In

iTechnology And  A Better World

By Tzvi Freeman

One day in 1979, 24-year-old Steve Jobs walked into Xerox PARC and saw the first GUI—a computer interface with a mouse, designed to work the way people work. As Steve Wozniak describes the scene, Jobs was jumping up and down like a small child, demanding “Why aren’t you doing anything with this? This is the greatest thing! This is revolutionary!”

The executives responded that the world wasn’t ready for this. My bet is that a lot of them were pretty scared by it. What’s the point of being a techie, after all, if everyone can do it? But Jobs grabbed whoever he could from the PARC team and built the Macintosh.

If he hadn’t, I would never have been able to become a writer—being rather dyslexic and uncoordinated. I wouldn’t be able to hold a job—because I can’t sit in an office behind a desk for more than an hour. In fact, I have no clue where I would be—other than a real lousy, clumsy cog in IBM’s wheel.

I used to joke that Apple was my second religion. Then Apple got too popular, and I was never one for being part of a mass movement. Nevertheless, I believe in Apple, because I share Steve Job’s vision. And I believe the course of history was changed through him for the better—real, real better.

When Steve Jobs started Apple at 19, this world was the world of IBM, General Motors, Exxon, Dow Chemicals and Encyclopedia Britannica. Today, make that Google, Apple, eBay, FaceBook and Wikipedia. Jobs promise was that 1984 would not be an Orwellian techno-1984 that would reduce us to uniformed humanoids, and he made good on that promise.

What has changed? Everything changed. The world has been turned on its head.

There was once a world where you had to memorize a manual to use a word processor—the same one just about everyone used. Where you had to take someone from the IT department out to lunch just to get basic stats about the company you managed. Where you had to hire a computer expert to get simple tasks done much as we hire accountants to take care of our income tax statements today (and I hope, not for much longer).

Today, we live in an iWorld. If I don’t like the encyclopedia entry, I modify it. If I’m fed up with working at a desk, I check my iPhone map for the closest park and go work there. Technology is here to serve me. I don’t need to conform to it, I don’t need to be manipulated by it, I barely need to spend time learning it—because it learns me.

So some of you are asking, "What is so beautiful, so messianic, about an iWorld?"
And my personal answer: the iWorld is the destiny of humankind and its saving grace.

It is the belief that a human being is not a cog in the wheel of a great machine, but the inherent master of all machines. It has enabled us to create a world where everybody knows when justice has been perverted and can scream about it to the whole world loud and clear. It is the power by which totalitarian regimes have fallen and will continue to fall, by granting everyone access to knowledge, which is power. And behind it all stands a tacit conviction that every human being contains something of the Divine, and therefore should be master of his or her world and destiny.

In Jewish terms—at least, the way I experienced the evolution of the past thirty-something years: The iWorld is the world of Moses, a world where every man, woman and child is a member of the covenant, and must therefore know the laws and teachings for themselves. And what Big Machine Inc. et al were interested in building was more like the world of Egypt's pharaoh and its priestly caste, of those who inform you “we have all the knowledge and we’ll let you know when you need to know.”

Around 500 years ago, Western Civilization began moving rapidly towards towards its destiny, towards that iWorld. In the last 50 years, we’ve been rapidly shifting gears upward. Up and away from a world where human beings are tightly squeezed through homogenization filters so they’ll fit into the system, into a world designed to fit the human being. Into a world where knowledge is free, opportunities for expression and creativity lie literally at your fingertips, every voice is heard and almost anything becomes possible even for the most handicapped child.

The world has its destiny, produced and directed by the Master of all destiny. A destiny in which Steve Jobs played a principal role. Sure, his role was nothing more than a provider of tools—it's up to us to use them to create that world for which we yearn.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wall Street - A Crisis Of Values

The ancients looked up at the heavens and saw the stars in their constellations. They honored them as stewards of divine energy and life, as the embodiment of all forces of nature and the origin of human passions. They abandoned the Master for the servant, for in truth there is only One and all else is but a tool in His hand.

Modern man looks down to the headlines of the finance page and sees there all the forces that will make or break his career, his retirement plans, his success as a human being. He too is a fool, for in truth there is only One and all else is but a tool in His hand. [M.M. Schneerson]

From Wall Street To Main Street
God throws things at us, totally confusing and mixing up our order and plans for our lives, and our sense of security as well. And our job, I feel, after the initial overwhelming upset, is to set to work organizing and setting the mess right again.

So how are we to deal with an overwhelming financial crisis?
The Rebbe often told people that wealth is a test – a test because it is often harder to keep focused while comfortable. Somehow, our inner wiring is such that when faced with crises we find ourselves searching for God, spirituality and meaning.

But, he would tell people, that test is the challenge of our generation. Our job is to have wealth, lots of real, touch-with-your-hands-and-feel-it money and to turn that into a good thing, to use the money for Godliness.

When faced with any question, we are taught to look inside the Torah and see what it tells us. Torah, our Sages have taught us, is from the Hebrew word hora'ah, lesson. The Torah is, essentially, a guidebook and lesson for us, for all times and for every situation.

When the Torah teaches the law of tithing, it says  "and you shall surely give a tenth of your earnings to charity". The commentaries explain that the double language of "and you shall surely give a tenth of your earnings to charity", which can be viewed as a strengthening of terms, hence the phrase "and you shall surely", has another meaning as well.  "you shall tithe", comes from the same root as , "you shall be wealthy". The verse is also saying "tithe" and  "you will become wealthy".

In other words, when we give charity, God gives us the ability to do so in abundance. Of this promise – that when you give charity, God will repay you many times over God says:  "test me in this". Try it, He is telling us, give some charity and you will see that you will make the money back, and then some.

As counter-rational and unbelievable as this piece of advice is, going against every grain of logic in our minds, I have seen some really special people who actually follow this advice. [Aliza Silberstein]

The crisis in the Western world is not financial, but a crisis of values.

A culture that conditions people to believe happiness will come from possessions rather than relationships is bound to collapse. Without spirituality and faith, materialism corrupts the mind and soul.

The best investment a person can make is to look far beyond the materialism and invest in their relationships, families, communities and human connections, business values and ethical dealings. 

Our real security comes from within, in feeling and trusting God’s presence in our life. 

Focus on nurturing your connection to nature, the universe, a deity, and whatever lies beyond here and now.

Who is truly happy? One who is content with their lot. One never knows what life will bring and how things will wrap themselves up in the end.

The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11: Ten Years On The World Remembers

Into the sky: The 'Tribute in Light' shines above lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and One World Trade Center, left, on Saturday in New York

America remembers: Nation mourns a decade after 9/11 terror attacks with tears and tributes to the victims who were lost on the day that changed the world

  • America remembers the day 10 years ago when terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon
  • Bush and Clinton among guests at dedication in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, of memorial to Flight 93 hijackers
  • Other memorials planned for New York and Washington D.C. as America mourns almost 3,000 victims

Families of the thousands of victims killed in New York on 9/11 gathered this morning at Ground Zero as the nation braces itself for a sombre day of tributes paid to those who lost their lives in the terror attacks which shocked the world ten years ago today.

As dawn broke, mothers, fathers and children began filtering in to the memorial site to lead the U.S. in pausing and reflecting on the decade since terrorists caused the Twin Towers to crumble, flew into the side of the Pentagon and crashed a plane in Pennsylvania.

At the ceremony today, moments of silence will be held to mourn those who perished as each of the planes crashed and the two towers went down, while President Barack Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush will deliver readings and the names of the 2,753 who died will be read aloud.

While New York will form the focus of the memorial day, respects will be paid throughout the country, with events at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania also poignantly marking the passing of innocent Americans a decade ago.

As authorities stepped up security throughout New York City, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum memorial service will see families gather throughout the day.

A moment of silence will be held at 8.46am, when the first plane crashed into the North Tower, and then the names of the victims will be read.
Further moments of silence will be held to mark the other attacks in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania at 9.03am, 9.36am, 9.59am, 10.03am and 10.28am.

The annual 'Tribute in Light' will then begin from the WTC site at sundown, visible for more than 60 miles. Two blue beams, made up of 7,000 watt bulbs, were switched on for the first time this year on Tuesday night.

As the victims' families gather to honour their lost ones, law enforcement agencies around the country have stepped up security at airports, nuclear plants, train stations and elsewhere in anticipation of possible anniversary attacks.

President Obama met with his national security team on Saturday, but the White House released no new information about possible threats.
A statement insisted counterterrorism efforts were working well and would not ease in the weeks and months ahead.

Residents and workers in the area will be required to carry identification to gain access with 20 downtown streets planned for closure.
Today marks the opening of the memorial and museum, set in the footprints of the original twin towers among a small forest of oak trees in an eight-acre plaza.

The memorial, which opens to the public tomorrow, features two 50ft-deep pools, each containing fountains, along with a museum with exhibitions and artefacts to teach visitors about the events of September 11. The pools have the victims' names etched around its perimeter.

Various American leaders have taken time this week to speak about the attacks and the importance of remembering what happened ten years ago.

President Obama has sought to strike a balance between remembering and moving forward, while also trying to summon the feeling of unity that existed during the dark days after terrorists killed nearly 3,000 Americans.

'They wanted to deprive us of the unity that defines us as a people. But we will not succumb to division or suspicion. We are Americans, and we are stronger and safer when we stay true to the values, freedoms and diversity that make us unique among nations,' he said.

Mr Obama also thanked American troops who have served in two long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and added: 'We're doing everything in our power to protect our people. No matter what comes our way, as a resilient nation, we will carry on.'

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who led New York in the days after the attacks, voiced some of the same themes in the Republican Party's weekly radio and Internet address. He said that on 9/11 terrorists had achieved their goal of killing Americans - but failed to destroy the American spirit.

'The country was not broken, but rather, it was more united in the days after September 11 than at any time in my lifetime. We displayed heroic spirit in many ways, but perhaps the most heroic was the unity of spirit that we shared as Americans,' he said.

'The American people demonstrated one of the most basic values that we share - our love of freedom and the value we place on individual human life.'

Meanwhile, former President George W. Bush paid tribute to the victims of Flight 93 yesterday, describing their actions as some of the most courageous in U.S. history.

Mr Bush was joined by former president Bill Clinton to lead a silent tribute to the victims of September 11 at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania the day before the official anniversary of the terror attacks.
Mr Bush said the defiance of passengers aboard the doomed plane was a shining example of democracy in action.

More than 4,000 people, including relatives of those killed when the plane crashed into a rural Pennsylvania field, attended the service.

Mr Bush, who was joined by his wife Laura, placed a wreath of white flowers by the 9/11 memorial stone embedded in the wall outside Corridor 4, which is close to where the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building, killing 184 people.

Also at Saturday's brief ceremony were Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, former Pentagon chief Donald H. Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen.

A long white stone wall bearing the names of those who struggled with al-Qaeda terrorists on the fourth airliner to be hijacked on September 11, 2001, was unveiled on the rural Pennsylvania field where the Boeing 757 crashed.

Current vice president Joe Biden joined the former presidents, families of the victims and several hundred others -- many in patriotic T-shirts or holding US flags under a slate grey sky.

During the ceremony, the names of the 40 victims were read out, one by one, accompanied by chimes.

Today President Obama will also join a two-hour commemorative service at the spot where Flight 93 went down.

The Flight 93 National Memorial currently includes an elongated walkway which sweeps past a circular field marked by a wreath-bedecked 17-ton boulder.

The adjoining wall bearing the names of the dead retraces the direction in which Flight 93 came down. Planted by the entry to the walkway are three young elm trees, representing the three 9/11 sites.

Notable upon the stage yesterday were the flags of Germany, Japan and New Zealand - in remembrance of wine merchant Christian Adams, 37, student Toshiya Kuge, 20, and lawyer Alan Anthony Beaven, 48, the non-native-born Americans.

A U.S. Navy brass quintet in crisp white uniforms played a prelude. US park rangers and FBI agents raised the national flag. Award-winning bagpiper Bruce Liberati performed, as did Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan.

In the aftermath of 9/11, local volunteers took on the task of greeting visitors and maintaining a makeshift memorial along the chain-link fence that overlooks what some call 'America's first battlefield against terrorism'.

On Friday, family members of those who died on Flight 93 visited the site, read the guestbook and viewed the many mementos left by people from all over the world who have come to pay their respects.

Relatives shed some tears, but they also celebrated the spirit of the guestbook - a rare feeling that people from vastly different walks of life had come together.

'I don't focus on what happened. You can't change that,' said Lorne Lyles, whose wife, CeeCee Ross Lyles, had been working as a United Airlines flight attendant for only nine months on that September morning in 2001.
'Coming here is more of a celebratory thing. She's been memorialised,' Mr Lyles said. 'Just to see the outpouring from all over the world is touching. You really do have some caring people in the world.'

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar spoke at the site on Friday. He noted that for all the progress on the memorial, there's still work to be done.

When it is finished, it will include a Tower of Voices with 40 wind chimes.

Public and private donors have contributed $52 million, but $10 million more is needed to build a true visitors centre and to finish landscaping, Mr Salazar said. 'We will not be able to complete the site' without additional funding', he said.

Meanwhile, 2,753 Flags of Honour - each baring the names of 9/11 victims in patriotic stripes of red and blue - are standing at the tip of Manhattan as New York City marks the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

The NYC Memorial Field, part of a five-day installation, was erected to give New Yorkers a public place to gather in remembrance of those who were killed in the horrific acts of September 11, 2001.

On Friday in midtown Manhattan, 2,753 empty chairs, representing the lives lost on 9/11, were set to face south toward the World Trade on Bryant Park's lawn for part of a project called Ten Years Later, A Tribute 9/11.

Meanwhile, actors and performers from the Broadway community gathered at Times Square in costume for Broadway Unites: 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance ceremony.

Yesterday morning at precisely 8:46am, thousands gathered to grasp hands and form a human chain to commemorate 9/11 at the tip of the Lower Manhattan waterfront heading north.

Organisers at Manhattan Community Board 1 said the event is open for those who feel excluded from today's official 9/11 Memorial ceremony, which is only open to families of the victims. Events to mark the tenth anniversary will go on throughout today in Manhattan.
 The Metropolitan Museum of Art will display the 9/11 Peace Story Quilt with an accompanying programme throughout the afternoon.

Graduate students from New York University will read poetry from the quilt and a free concert will be performed. Created in collaboration with New York City students aged between 8 and 19, the quilt was made to convey the importance of communication among cultures and religions to achieve peace.

The 92nd Street Y will have free memorial services on 9/11 for families at 2pm and for other adults at 3 pm. A talk will also be given by photographer Joel Meyerowitz, creator of the World Trade Center archive, at 7:30pm.

The New-York Historical Society will showcase a selection of photos taken during the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The Remembering 9/11 photo exhibition will be on view until April 12.

A film titled World Trade Center: All Times, based on a 10-year project by Fred J. DeVito that began as a way to remember the events and how they shaped the lives of Americans, will play at the Big Screen Plaza in Manhattan's Flatiron district. 

 The New York Mets will hold a tribute at Citi Field at 7:30pm, half an hour before their game against the Chicago Cubs begins. John Franco will throw the first pitch to Mike Piazza - both members of the 2001 team.

An Evening of Light 10th Anniversary Gala will be also held at Capitale at 8pm.
 The fundraiser event is for Tuesday’s Children, a non-profit family service organisation which helps those affected by the attacks on 9/11.

FDNY 10th anniversary memorial service honouring members lost at WTC, a free ceremony at St Patrick’s Cathedral, will be held from from 2-4pm, honouring the 343 FDNY families that lost a loved one at the World Trade Center. The ceremony will be shown on large TV monitors in midtown Manhattan.

Later in the day, the famous church will hold a free concert given by the Young Peoples Chorus of New York, the New York Choral Society, and Cathedral Choir of St Patrick.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9/11 Army Chaplain Reflects - The Soldier In His Ash Covered Boots

A Symbol Of 9/11 Loss. In remembrance of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.

By Colonel Jacob Z. Goldstein

One of the first tasks you learn as a soldier is how to shine your boots. No matter where you're stationed or what your mission, your day begins with polished boots.

When my men and I arrived at Ground Zero, fires were raging out of control and the smoke was burning our eyes. The first thing I noticed was the ash. Cars, people, buildings -- everything was covered in ankle-deep ash. Some time later it occurred to us that many people who had been inside the World Trade Center had been completely burned, cremated by the intense heat of the explosions and fires. This ash was their remains.

 I did not clean my boots that night. How could I? Would it make a difference? Within four hours I would be back outside, amid the carnage and destruction. I have not shined my boots since September 11, and when my mission here is completed and I am no longer needed at Ground Zero, these boots will be buried, never to be worn again.

 The question I hear every day, from soldiers, civilians, politicians and rescue workers is, "How could God allow this to happen?" They ask me this as I walk on the ashes, as I climb over destroyed buildings, and as I pass the constant stream of families in mourning, peering over the barricades. I could tell them that there are people who choose to do good and people who choose to do evil. But what do I say to the thousands of innocent people who are suffering, the victims and the bereaved? What can I offer? I can only try to offer hope.

 Essentially, my job is hope. I am not trained in desert warfare, I cannot fly an F-16, and I get stuck sometimes just trying to send e-mail. But I do know the value that Judaism places on hope and faith. The Talmud teaches us that even if the blade of an enemy's sword is at one's throat, one must never give up hope.

Inside every person there is an incredible reservoir of hope and strength. I have seen it in our Armed Forces for 26 years. But September 11th exposed this hope in each and every person.

I saw hope in a firefighter who stood on burning debris with his boots melting, hoping to find survivors. I saw hope in the eyes of a rescue worker who pulled a yarmulke out of the wreckage and gave it to me, hoping that I could find out to whom it belonged.

I saw hope in a volunteer who heard that I was going to blow the shofar at Ground Zero on Rosh Hashanah. When she heard the notes of the shofar, tears began to stream down her face. When the service was over, she gathered herself together, took a deep breath and went back to work.

I saw hope and strength in the Army combat engineers who built a sukkah at Ground Zero for rescue workers and families of the Jewish faith. I heard hope in the words of President Bush and Governor Pataki. I saw hope in the actions of Mayor Giuliani, who was constantly with the workers, encouraging them and thanking them for their help. These ordinary people, these rescue workers, these leaders, help give us hope and faith in a time when we need it most.

A grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt. He said, "I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is full of anger, despair and hopelessness. The other is full of compassion, strength and hope."

 The grandson asked, "Which wolf will win this fight in your heart?"

The grandfather answered, "The one that I feed."

If there is one thing we need most today, it is hope. Feed the hope and faith in yourself and others around you. Never give up. Never lose hope, as it is the essential ingredient with which we will rebuild our society. Without it, we have buildings that can be destroyed. With it, we are one nation under God, indivisible.

Colonel Jacob Z. Goldstein is the chief chaplain of the New York Army National Guard. He and his team were eyewitnesses to the tragic events of September 11th, and one of the first military units to arrive at Ground Zero.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricanes, Tsunamis And Turmoil. Why Are Misfortunes Befalling Our Homes?

Just as God's world has its storms and seasons, so, too, our homes.

As I finished viewing one news clip where houses were being knocked down by bulldozers, I watched another, showing a tropical storm doing the same damage.

And I wondered: why are misfortunes befalling our homes?

Why a merciful God decreed and allowed these things to happen is beyond our comprehension. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). It is not for us to give or suggest reasons for the sad and bad things that transpire in the world.

But it is for us to offer solutions. To share in the pain of those who have lost their loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods. To extend moral, emotional and material help in every way possible.

We are also duty-bound to learn and grow from everything we experience or witness.

"A man without a home is not a man," the Talmud says, because without a home we have no place, no world. Our home is the setting of our lives: the place where we sleep and eat, laugh, play and cry. Our home is the place where we live as a family; where we imitate God, creating our own miniature world.

Just as God's world has its storms and seasons, so, too, our homes. There are times when our home life glows like the shining sun and flows calm like a soft stream. Sometimes we have tsunamis, hurricanes and turmoil.

Today, many who live in the pathways of the storms are taking a closer look at the physical structure of their home, making sure it has solid foundations and strong walls to help it withstand these outside forces.

All the more so the inside, the very reason we built our home in the first place. It must have strong foundations, morals and values to withstand the outside forces and the negative influences that storm on around us.

When we witness catastrophes, both man-made and God-sent, that knock down our homes, rip through our lives and leave us stranded and homeless, it is a time first to help those out there, bring them in, feed them, dress them and spread the warmth.

It is also a time to look into our inner foundations, the interior morals and values, and check that they are stable and strong. Enough to give us good reason to call upon God to put a final end to all these disasters once and for all.

As we enter the month of Elul, ushering in the New Year, we remember that at the beginning of the year God decides what the year has in store for us.

So we beseech and pray to Him: "Let us join You in making this world a home, a home that begins in our small houses and courtyards, in our cities, in our countries and throughout Your beautiful creation. Help us and guide us, give us the courage and all that we need materially and physically to withstand the stormy conditions. Let our homes be everlasting edifices of holiness.

"And may Your creation; our world, be strong and safe, pure and holy." [Mendel Cohen]

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Dollar - Read The Fine Print

We pray for it, we slave for it, we devote our best years and finest talents to acquire it. And then we blame it for all our ills.

In particular, two basic accusations are leveled against the dollar:

a) It has usurped the position, once occupied by the spiritual, the transcendent and the divine, of the highest striving of man and the ultimate authority in his life. In this day and age, the dollar is god.

b) It is the cause of untold division and strife. It has pitted brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, nation against nation. Indeed, virtually all conflicts are conflicts between the haves and the have-nots. And what do the haves have that the have-nots do not? Money.

But is the dollar really at fault? Is a six-and-one-eighth by two-and-five-eighths inch piece of green and white paper to be blamed for the fact that we have transformed the ultimate means into an ultimate end? That a most potent social glue is used to build walls of hostility and fortresses of isolation? What does the dollar itself say about its intended and perverted uses?

By divine providence, the designers of the dollar inscribed on it two key phrases. The first, which extends above the large “ONE” on its reverse side, is “In God we trust.” Not I, says the dollar, can provide you with solace from the pain of life and security against its uncertainties; not I should serve as the object of your yearning and the focus of your striving. Do not trust in me—trust in God. Do not serve me—use me to serve God.

The second phrase, inscribed on the face of the Great Seal of the United States reproduced to the right, is “E pluribus unum” (“Out of many, one”). Yes, the world we perceive with our eyes of flesh is a plural world, a world of great variety and diversity. But our mission in life is to make of the many one, to unite these diverse forces into a harmonious expression of the oneness of their Creator.

People are different—differently endowed with talents, resources and opportunities. Money can deepen these differences, when it is used to hoard wealth, reward privilege and exploit the needy. But money is far more suited to unite and equalize. It is the ultimate abstractor, converting goods, talent and toil into a commodity that can easily be traded and shared. It is a medium of generosity and cooperation between men and nations, a consolidator of resources to a common end.

The next time you use or pursue a dollar, take a moment to read the fine print. [The Rebbe]

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Each His Path

Just as it is right to direct someone on to the path where he belongs, so too it is a crime to direct someone onto a path that does not belong to him.

Each person is born with a path particular to his or her soul, generally according to the culture into which he or she was born.

There are universal truths, the inheritance of all of us since Adam and Noah. In them we are all united. But we are not meant to all be the same. Our differences are as valuable to our Creator as our similarities. [Tzvi Freedman]

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Burning Palace

The sensitive human being gazes at a brilliantly structured universe, a splendid piece of art. He is overwhelmed by the grandeur of a sunset and by the miracle of childbirth; he marvels at the roaring ocean waves and at the silent, steady beat of the human heart. The world is indeed a palace.

But the palace is in flames. The world is full of bloodshed, injustice and strife. Thugs, abusers, rapists, kidnappers and killers are continuously demolishing the palace, turning our world into an ugly tragic battlefield of untold pain and horror.

"And God said to Abraham: 'Go from your land, your birthplace, and your father's house...'" (Genesis12:2) To what may this be compared? To a man who was traveling from place to place when he saw a palace in flames. He wondered: "Is it possible that the palace has no owner?" The owner of the palace looked out and said, "I am the owner of the palace." So Abraham our father said, "Is it possible that the world lacks a ruler?" Go d looked out and said to him, "I am the ruler, the Sovereign of the universe."

"What happened to the owner of the palace?" Abraham cries. Why does God allow man to destroy His world? Why does He permit such a beautiful palace to go up in flames? Could God have made a world only to abandon it? Would anyone build a palace and then desert it?

The Midrash records God's reply: "The owner of the palace looked out and said: 'I am the owner of the palace.' God looked out and said to Abraham: 'I am the ruler, the Sovereign of the universe.'"

What is the meaning of God's response?

Note that the owner of the palace does not make an attempt to get out of the burning building or to extinguish the flames. He is merely stating that He is the owner of the palace that is going up in smoke. It is as if, instead of racing out, the owner were calling for help.

(In our times today we too witnessed a palace going up in flames. Ten years ago we gazed in disbelief at the horror of The World Trade Center uncontrollably going up in flames and burn to the ground. Now today too, London is burning and consumed up in flames as rioters rampage across the city as police struggle to contain a third night of rioting and looting.
Residents of large areas of London and parts of Birmingham and Liverpool are holed up in their homes, too fearful to walk the streets as masked and hooded rioters take over the streets.

Police were largely powerless to prevent gangs of rioters, most of them youths, as they marauded through the main streets of districts in north, south, east, west and central London.

Firefighters were also prevented or unable to keep up with the number of blazes that were started by rioters, many carrying cans and bottles of alcohol).

God made the palace, man set it on fire, and only man can put out the flames.

Abraham asks God, "Where are you?" God replies, "I am here, where are you?"

Man asks God, "Why did You abandon the world?" God asks man, "Why did you abandon Me?"

Thus began the revolution of true monotheism. Humanity's courageous venture to extinguish the flames of immorality and bloodshed and restore the world to the harmonious and sacred palace it was intended to be. Abraham's encounter with God in the presence of a burning palace gave birth to the mission statement of the moral crusade - to be obsessed with good and horrified by evil.
By forgetting Gods covenant with Noah, we failed to do our part in the protection of the destroyed palace.

For too long, many in society succumbed to the lure of the modern popular notion that there is no such thing as absolute evil behavior. "Thou shall not judge," has become the cherished motto of our times. We have been taught to rather understand the underlying frustrations compelling the aggressor to follow his extreme route.

This "sophisticated" and "open-minded" point of view has allowed many of us to sustain an ethos of boundless tolerance, accepting all forms of behavior as just, since at the core of every mean act lies a crying heart.

Few ideas have been rejected in abiding by the Noahide Laws with so much passion, because the refusal to take a stand against what is wrong, will result in wrong's victory. For example, a non-judgmental view of a suicide bomber may appeal to our sense of compassion and understanding. Yet in reality it assists the "frustrated activists" in their continuous slaughter of innocent victims.

The Noahide Laws, in its impassioned attempt to turn the world into an exquisite palace, created absolute universal standards for good and evil. These standards are defined by the Creator of the universe and are articulated in His manual for human living. Taking the life of an innocent person is evil. No 'if's, 'but's or 'why's. The killer may be badly hurting, but that never justifies the act of murdering an innocent human being.

Have we lost sight of our mission statement crafted by God to Noah on that fateful day thousands of years ago? Terrorists, anarchists and thugs the world over have learned that they can continue their despicable work without serious consequences.

Good people of the world are waiting to be inspired by our four-millennia long heritage of standing up to evil and banishing it from God's palace. [Adapted from YY Jacobson]

In the morning prayer, fire burns fire.

In our default state, we burn with anxiety - the anxieties of survival in a hostile world. When we meditate and pray, we fan a fire of love for that which transcends this world. One fire swallows another and we are set free. Liberated from fear, we face the world no longer as slaves, but as masters.

The perfection in the Divine service lead to the realization of the essential unity in human nature, to the point where the Good Inclination and the Bad Inclination become one, through the transformation of the Bad Inclination by and into the Good Inclination, for otherwise, of course, there can be no unity and harmony, since all that is holy and positive and creative could never make peace and be subservient to the unholy, negative and destructive.

Let us resolve to unite together as a power that will work to cure the poverty, evil, hurt and unjust that exists and bring some sanity and calm to the world. God’s Creation will then truly be complete and will impart  meaning and fulfillment to our lives thus resulting in a truly ethical and moral culture and society.

Why would God allow terrible things to happen in the world without intervening to prevent them? The story answers your question, "Could God have made a world only to abandon it?"

The palace represents God's Kingdom. The flames represent the tainted vision of man. The reason God appears unconcerned is because the flames are not real: they appear only in the terrifying dreams of one who has broken God's commandment not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If the man abandons the sinful habit of judging good and evil for himself, and leaves judgement to God (to whom it belongs), the flames will be transformed, and the man will see only the pure, Holy light of God. God assures the man that there is a sovereign ruler, and that ruler is I AM. The palace is not on fire, but because the man has attempted to usurp God's authority, his mind is a raging inferno. [Yehudi Waharam]