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]