Aish HaTorah

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  1. Aish HaTorah

    Shabbat Shalom

    Shabbat Shalom! May the L-RD bless thee, and keep thee; The L-RD make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The L-RD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee shalom. -Numbers 6: 24-26 May HaShem bless you and your families during the new and glorious week.
  2. Aish HaTorah

    The Rabbi Loves You

    Shalom, my friends. I am back after a long number of years and trials and tribulations. Suffice it to say, some of you may remember me (for good or ill), and many of you do not know me. One of the things that has changed since last I was among your good selves is that I have completed my training to become a rabbi. I love you and I am happy to be among you again. We do not always agree on things, but we can certainly discuss things in love. As the great prophet Isaiah said, "Come then, and let us reason together." I pray the Almighty, blessed be He, grants you a day of fullness and love. It is a great day to be alive! G-d, it is true, before You there is no night, and the light is with You, and You make the whole world shine with Your light. The mornings tell of Your mercy, and the nights tell of Your truth, and all creatures tell of Your great mercy and of great miracles. Each day You renew Your help, O G-d! Who can recount Your miracles? You sit in the sky and count the days of the devout, and set the time for all Your creatures. Your single day is a thousand years, and Your years and days are unbounded. All that is in the world must live its life to an end, but You are there, You will always be there... You, G-d, are pure, and pure are Your holy servants who three times ever day cry, "Holy," and sanctify You in heaven and on the earth. You, G-d, are sanctified and praised. The whole world is filled with Your glory for ever and ever.
  3. I thought it may be of some interest if I start a thread to discuss each week's parsha. 😐 So...what is a parsha, you may be asking? Jewish people have a deep and abiding love for the Torah, and, over time, the entirety of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) have been divided into sections so as to render the readings in such a way that the entire Torah is read through in its entirety each year. There are fifty-four parashiot (plural) that are read during the course of a year. Each Torah portion (or parsha) is named. The name usually is a word or words that are found in the first line of any given week's Torah portion. The origins of public Torah readings can be found in the Book of Nehemiah. I think it may be of interest to some to share the basic outline of the parsha for each week and then share a word or two (or more) about the reading from a rabbi's perspective. I would be fascinated and much obliged to hear your thoughts from a non-Jewish point of view on any given parsha. I should also mention that the parsha does not fall on the same week each year as it is based on the Hebrew calendar and not the Gregorian. I will begin this week's parsha commentary in another post within this thread. Please feel free to comment or ask any questions you may have! As always, I pray that the Almighty, blessed be He, grant you His perfect shalom. Be well, my friends.
  4. Aish HaTorah

    Bible Jokes (the Nice Kind) :)

    A father was telling Torah stories to his young children. He read, "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city and never look back. But, his wife looked back, sadly, and so was turned to salt." His son asked, "What happened to the flea?"
  5. Shalom, my friends. I hope the peace of HaShem is upon you now and always. I thought I would start this thread to entice you to ask those burning questions you may have (or, perhaps you don't!) always wanted to ask of a Jew. Please, feel free to share. No question (other than those that are antithetical to the forum rules) will be considered too great or too small. Many of you have asked delicious questions in other threads, but there is always room for more sharing and understanding between our people. Now, some ideas and a joke to get the cogs in your brain turning... 1. Are Jews followers of a religion or members of a race/ethnicity? 2. What does the Covenant of Abraham mean to us today? 3. What is the difference between a Synagogue and a Temple? 4. Who was the first Jew? 5. Why do Jews believe that Palestinians have no historical claim to land? 6. Is the Rabbi the same as a Priest or Pastor? 7. How can we say Mormons are Gentiles and you say that we are Gentiles? 8. Is my daughter driving me crazy preparing for her Bat Mitzvah? (Uhhh...) What is a Bat Mitzvah, anyway? 9. What's so wrong with a bacon cheeseburger? 10. Can animals be Jewish? 11. Whatever other burning questions you may have! So my mishpacha...have at it! Don't beat me up. Unless you want to, then it's ok I suppose. And may the odds be ever in your favor...
  6. Aish HaTorah

    Can you decipher this limerick?

    There person who makes it does not use it. The person who buys it does not need it. The person who uses it does not know it. What is it?
  7. Aish HaTorah

    Looking beyond the Mark.

    Very much so, I thank you.
  8. Aish HaTorah

    Looking beyond the Mark.

    Pardon the intrusion, but your comment (as well as others on the idea of a "satisfactory" or "satisfying" answer when petitioning G-d is deeply fascinating to me. Do you think it is possible that G-d gives ambiguous answers to those who inquire even after deeply important matters? In reading the New Testament (Acts 15), there was a time that the Apostles seemed to receive an answer from G-d that was not clear or distinct but rather it "seemed good." The occasion was in considering whether Gentiles (non-Jews) could, in fact, follow a Jewish Messiah (Jesus), and, if that was a possibility, what would that look like in practice. I find their response after "much disputing" very interesting: Notice the bold/italic portions above. My question to all of you as believers in Jesus and the Holy Ghost, do you believe that G-d will be, at times, deliberately ambiguous about important matters in order for men to make their own decisions? Not sure if I'm making any sense, but there you have it. Be well, my friends.
  9. Aish HaTorah

    Looking beyond the Mark.

    Sorry to interject, but that isn't actually what the Hebrew says. I am NOT one to derail a thread (says the rabbi who just did), but I felt it important to point that out. My apologies.
  10. I was well-pleased to see this thread. This is a topic of some interest to me, and I find it fascinating how very Jewish Jesus was in his words and in his living. For what it's worth (you may find this interesting as well)... The invocation Avinu ("Our Father") is one common in Jewish liturgy, especially in the Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) prayer, "Our Father, our King! Disclose the glory of Thy Kingdom unto us speedily." There are also strong elements of another part of liturgy we say in a prayer called Kaddish. There are many different versions of this prayer (on called the Mourner's Kaddish, for example, that we say for those mourning the loss of a close family member), but one common phrase it contains is, "May His great name be hallowed in the world which He created, according to His will, and may He establish His Kingdom . . . speedily and at a near time." Later in the prayer, we proclaim with conviction, "Magnified and hallowed . . . be the name of the supreme King of Kings in the worlds which He created, this world and the world to come, in accordance with His will . . . and may we see Him eye to eye when He returneth to His habitation." The rest of the L-rd's Prayer, also, stands in close relation to the Messianic expectation that existed (and still exists) among the Jews of the Second Temple period. R. Eliezer said: "He who created the day created also its provision; wherefore he who, while having sufficient food for the day, says: 'What shall I eat to-morrow?' belongs to the men of little faith such as were the Israelites at the giving of the manna." This is deeply fascinating when contemplating that Jesus said: "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or . . . drink. . . . . O ye of little faith. . . . Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, . . . and all these things shall be added to you." Faith being thus the prerequisite of those that wait for the Messianic time, it behooves them to pray, in the words of Solomon, "Give us our apportioned bread," that is, the bread we need daily and for which we give thanks and praise to G-d. Before eating a meal (containing bread), we recite the following: ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו, מלך העולם, המוציא לחם מן הארץ. "Blessed art Thou, O L-rd our G-d, who brings forth bread from the earth." Repentance being another prerequisite of redemption, a prayer for forgiveness of sin is also required in this connection. But on this point special stress was laid by the Jewish sages of old. "Forgive thy neighbor the hurt that he hath done unto thee, so shall thy sins also be forgiven when thou prayest," says Ben Sira. "To whom is sin pardoned? To him who forgiveth injury." Accordingly Jesus said: "Whensoever ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any one; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." It was this precept which prompted the formula "And forgive us our sins as we also forgive those that have sinned against us." And then we get to the thrust of this thread...that fascinating line that says, "and lead us not into temptation." This also is found in the Jewish morning prayer..."Never should a man bring himself into temptation as David did, saying, 'Examine me, O Lord, and prove me.'" And as sin is the work of the Evil One (what you would probably call Satan), there comes the final prayer, "But deliver us from the evil one [Satan]." The doxology added in Book of Matthew, following a number of manuscripts, is a portion of I Chronicles 29:11, and was the liturgical chant with which the L-rd's Prayer was concluded in the Church. Interestingly (at least to me), it occurs in the Jewish ritual also, the whole verse being chanted at the opening of the Ark of the Torah.
  11. Aish HaTorah

    People of the Covenant - Ask a Jew

    To my way of thinking, it is spiritual compromise of horrific proportions. We should not seek after worldly treatment, but in all things we are to give G-d the praise and the glory. We have a prayer that we say called the Amidah. At the beginning, we petition HaShem to "open our lips so that our mouths may proclaim His glory." If and when American Jews turn back to their Creator, only then will their voices be heard. Too many mistake the covenants and promises that G-d has given to us for the perceived entitlement of preferential treatment by manmade voices and institutions.
  12. Aish HaTorah

    People of the Covenant - Ask a Jew

    Good question. I believe that the majority of devoutly religious observant Jews in the US are still conservative in their ideology and politics. It is primarily the secular Jew who has abandoned religious expression and embraced Liberal thinking. I think history has the greatest part to play in this. It seems that the easiest explanation of this phenomenon is in terms of the actual political history of the Jewish people, a history which is for the most part one of political impotence. A people whose history is largely a story of powerlessness and victimization, or at least is felt to be such, is not likely to acquire the kinds of skills necessary for astute statesmanship. Neither rabbinic nor prophetic traditions can be of much assistance in this respect, since political thinking is inherently secular thinking, so that Jewish secular thinking about politics has traditionally focused on some splendid isolated incidents of resistance and rebellion, such as the wars of the Maccabees, and the resistance against Rome. But the memory of these incidents is hardly a sufficient basis on which to ground a real tradition of political wisdom that could teach contemporary Jews how to wield power and successfully defend Jewish interests. And the absence of such a tradition of political wisdom continues to haunt all Jewish politics, including the politics of Israeli Jews, despite the fact that they now have half a century of experience in self-government. It is interesting that a large number of Israelis approve of President Trump and his policies, while only a fraction of American Jews feel the same way. Jews, like so many in this country, have been seduced by the clever lies and promises of the Liberal agenda. Perhaps they want so desperately to believe that they can have a voice that they succumb to left-thinking ideology.
  13. Aish HaTorah

    Doors & Windows

    I would most certainly have to appeal to Holy Writ for the answer to this: My son, forget not my teaching; But let thy heart keep my commandments; For length of days, and years of life, And peace, will they add to thee. Let not kindness and truth forsake thee; Bind them about thy neck, write them upon the table of thy heart; So shalt thou find grace and good favour In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thy heart, And lean not upon thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, And He will direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:1-6
  14. Aish HaTorah

    BYU-I Don’t

    Jewish people often deal with life's situations in humorous ways, even serious matters. Dating and marriage is ripe for jest for rabbis! For what it's worth... Lavish visited his mother and father. He said, "Finally! I've found the woman I'm going to marry. Just for fun, I'm going to bring over three women and you guess which one is 'the one.'" Mama and Papa agreed. The following day, he brought three lovely women who sat on the sofa and chatted with his parents while enjoying a little nosh. After they left, he challenged them. "Okay, can you guess which one I'm going to marry?" Without hesitating they said, "The one in the middle with the red hair." Astonished, the son replied, "That's right! But, how did you know?" His mother rolled her eyes and looked at him. "Simple. She's the one we didn't like."
  15. There is much that can be pulled out of B'midbar, but let me take a stab at something that really struck me this week... The Book of Numbers begins, as I mentioned in the previous post, with a series of census counts that seek to establish the number of adult males, the number of Levites, and the number of kohanim (priests) among the people of Israel. The endless list of random names often drives many to intense boredom! Tears flow, teeth are gnashed, hair is pulled from its roots. As a rabbi, it is sometimes frustrating to find some hook to make these lengthy Torah passages seem worthwhile to anyone brave enough to explore this seemingly tedious portion of Scripture. Columns of numbers may interest accountants, but the rest of us may strain to experience either spiritual or moral resolve in a census of who was who in ancient Israel. Yet, we return to these verses every year. Surely there must be a reason why the Torah includes them! Normally terse and laconic, the Torah must have a rationale for the recitation of this tedium. Why this attention to so many numbers? Rashi has a moving explanation. The concern for counting each individual, says he, reflects G-d's intense love for each of His children, "Because they are cherished before G-d, they are counted at every occasion." Each and every one is counted, for in G-d's light, each and every individual is unique and precious in His sight. It hearkens to the Sh'ma..."Hear, O Israel, the L-rd Our G-d, the L-rd is One." We know we are to love G-d and to love our neighbor. And our neighbor is everyone around us, both near and far. Humanity is made in G-d's image; an inability to love each of His children thus constitutes hatred of an aspect of G-d as well. May we learn to see each and every individual through the eyes of the Almighty, blessed be He! May we resolve to cultivate our own ability to love precisely where we find love most difficult. Be blessed, my friends. Shalom, shalom.
  16. This week's parsha is B'minbar (בְּמִדְבַּר), which means "In the Desert." It encompasses Numbers 1:1-4:20. The Book of Numbers begins in the wilderness of Sinai. The children of Israel are organized into a military camp, which requires, by necessity, taking a census to know their precise number. Moses, Aaron, and the chiefs of the tribes register all the men over the age of twenty. The total comes to a little over 600,000. The Levites are not included in the census with the other Israelites. Once Moses has ascertained their numbers, each Israelite is told to camp in military divisions with his own tribe, with each tribe assuming an assigned position around the Tabernacle. The Levites are assigned to be attendants to the priests, and the priests are given sole responsibility for performing the rituals of the sanctuary. All of this takes place around the foot of Mount Sinai. In the wilderness near the mountain, G-d tells Moses to perform a census of the Levite males from the age of one month. Their total was 22,000. In lieu of G-d possessing the firstborn among the Israelites, the levites are now pledged to divine service. There follows a second census of the Levites, this time numbering those between the ages of thirty and fifty, for the purpose of determining the workforce available to transport the Tabernacle through the wilderness.
  17. Aish HaTorah

    drugs and gun violence

    As powerful as some of the gun lobbyists are, I believe the pharmaceutical companies are the heavy-hitters...especially with Liberals. (For what it's worth, I am an avid supporter of gun rights in nearly all arenas. My father was a sniper and we are very pro-2nd Amendment at my synagogue.) Even today, people have a huge problem with wrapping their mind around the fact that WE HAVE A DRUG PROBLEM in the United States. All the millions poured into studies and the billions in care still have gained little to no ground in stopping the epidemic (even pandemic) of illicit drug use. We live, unfortunately, in a society that will blame everything (every extenuating circumstance) and every other person instead of the person actually doing the bad thing. In some cases, such as that of drug use and its ties to gun violence, there is a culprit. Still, the fault remains on the individual, imho, and not the guns (especially) or the drugs. Let's say that a young woman gets on a bus and sees a pair of earrings someone is wearing that she fancies. She decides to take them by use of violent force. Then she's caught. In court, her attorneys will say that she did it because of her upbringing. They will blame the schools for not taking the initiative to notice she was struggling. They will blame the community for having a lack of sufficient programs to help troubled youth. They will blame the victim for wearing expensive jewelry in pubic. The blame is heaped on everyone EXCEPT the perpetrator. It is as if the perpetrator of the crime played no part in the crime itself and bares no burden of responsibility. It is a classic case of Judge Judy's famous, "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." I work closely with the mayor of Las Vegas as part of a Faith Initiative that she started, and the problem with drugs (especially youth) in this community is astronomical. It is heartbreaking. It is easier by far to blame guns. Guns are the problem. Opioids and other drugs such as the psychotropic drugs you mentioned only ever do people good, right? *sigh* Good points you make!
  18. Aish HaTorah

    People of the Covenant - Ask a Jew

    Shalom Friend, That is a complex question to answer. If pressed, and for the sake of simplicity, I would say that the majority of the Jewish community in the United States do not hold him in high regard. I think this is unfortunate. It speaks to larger issues of the nature of the Jewish community in the US and other western nations. The trend among Jews in the US is toward liberalism. It is something that breaks my heart, if truth be known. I am a conservative--both in my Judaism as well as my politics--and it baffles me how so many of my people turn their back on conservative values, and, by default, Israel itself. Not to mention the Almighty, blessed be He. Far too often the Jews in America side with Palestine rather than Israel, and it truly upsets me. Still...I suppose I should not be overly surprised. My people have a long history of disobedience to G-d's word. We are blessed, we stray, He calls us back to Himself, and we grow complacent in our faith and we stray. There is a song that I believe you have in your LDS hymnbook (although I may be mistaken) that says something to the effect of "Prone to wander, L-rd I feel it. Prone to leave the G-d I love." That about sums up the general consensus among American Jewry.
  19. Aish HaTorah

    Doors & Windows

    This is such a fascinating topic, and I am appreciative to hear different viewpoints on how and why suffering and tragedy are parts of our lives and the lives of G-d's children throughout the history of the world. If I may be allowed to put in my two shekels... Jews, in some regards, read the Bible differently. One of the most striking features of the Torah (and all of the Tenakh, for that matter) is that the the most challenging questions about fate come not from unbelievers (those who either don't know G-d or do but choose not to believe), but, rather, from those heroes of faith themselves. Abraham asked: "Shall the Judge of all the Earth not do justice?" Moses asked: "Why have You done evil to this people?" The entire book of Job is dedicated to this question, and in the end it is not Job's comforters, who blamed his misfortunes on his sins, who were vindicated by heaven, but Job himself, who consistently challenged G-d. In Judaism, faith lies in the question, not the answer. Questions are of such deep importance, and they would have been expected...especially during the time of the Second Temple (Jesus' day). In my studies of Christianity, it is fascinating to note how when Jesus was asked questions, he would often respond with...another question. This was quite typical of rabbis in his day. Rabbis were not interested in hearing a regurgitation of things they had taught their students. They asked questions so as to ascertain if their students had fully grasped what they were being taught. Taught about Torah and taught about interpretation and taught about how a certain passage should be made flesh and lived, as it were. So for me as a Jew (and a rabbi), the real question is, therefore, not: "Why did this happen?" But "What then shall I do about it?" The Jewish response is not to seek to understand, thereby to accept. We are not the Almighty, blessed be He. Instead, we are the people He has called on us to be his partners in the work of creation. The only adequate response, by my way of thinking, is to say: "G-d, I do not know why this tragic thing has happened, but I do know what You want of us: to help the afflicted, comfort the bereaved, send healing to the injured, and aid those who have lost their livelihoods and homes. We cannot understand G-d, but, G-d willing, we can strive to imitate His love and care to the very best of our ability. That was probably more than two shekels worth of drivel. May you be well, my friends.
  20. Aish HaTorah

    People of the Covenant - Ask a Jew

    I found this thread up on the high shelf behind some boxes with old (and scary) prom photos. Thought I'd dust it off and see if anyone wants to ask a few more questions..........
  21. Aish HaTorah

    The Rabbi Loves You

    Orthodox, I am not. Although I have been known to have Orthodox leanings from time to time. I am quite conservative in my beliefs, although there is much about the Reform movement that I find extraordinarily sincere and pleasing. I am happy to make your acquaintance.
  22. Aish HaTorah

    The Rabbi Loves You

    So...I have returned yet again. I should mention at this point that my absences are not out of some lack of interest in participation, but, rather, because I have a daughter who has a terminal illness. I am sure it goes without saying that with her and her condition my heart lies and I must tend to her needs when her symptoms become severe at times. I pray you have all been well and that the Almighty, blessed be He, has shown you His infinite mercies and tender shalom.
  23. For the sake of conversation... ...May I ask you: Is the purpose of your church (individually or collectively) the same as that of the synagogue? Has this changed over time, or does it remain the same? I am referring, specifically, the the local warehouse (or the idea of warehouses, collectively) and not the larger mission of LDS evangelism, etc. Let me give you an overview of the synagogue as well as synagogue life so that you may better assess what similarities and differences they may have with your warehouse. (I sincerely hope that I am using that term--wardhouse--correctly. It didn't seem right to say "building." Even before the destruction of the Second Temple, perhaps even in early Biblical days, there were already rudimentary synagogues in ancient Israel. It clearly became the central institution for the cultivation of the faith during the Babylonian captivity. The restoration under Nehemiah and Ezra left a large Jewish Diaspora outside the Holy Land, and that Diaspora increased in succeeding ages. Its central institution was the synagogue. Here the Jews gathered to pray together, but that was not its most important function. The mitzvah (commandment) to pray, we believe, is incumbent upon every individual Jew, three times a day--morning, afternoon, and evening--and there is relatively little difference in the prescribed order of prayer between the service as said in public in the synagogue and the version of it that is prescribed for the individual. The central function of the synagogue is to cultivate a value perhaps more important than prayer to Jewish faith--study of the Torah. On Shabbat (the Sabbath) as well as on festivals (Feasts of the L-rd) people gather in the synagogue to hear a reading of a passage from Torah and to be led in the understanding of its interpretation. This is enshrined in the central act of public worship in Judaism on every major occasion. The Scroll of the Torah, which is written in prescribed ancient form by hand on parchment made of the skin of a (kosher) animal, is taken from the Ark and an appropriate section is read. On the Shabbat, the cycle of readings from the Torah comprises a consecutive reading of the Five Books of Moshe in the course of the Sabbaths of the year. A complementary section from Prophets, known as the Haftarah, is also read on Shabbat and Festivals. The synagogue is a Beit K'nesset (House of Assembly), a Beit Tefilah (House of Prayer), and a Beit Midrash (House of Study). How do you see the building in which you worship? I know that it is an important gathering place for you. Do you see it functioning in the same way? Are there differences? Thank you kindly! Shalom, shalom.
  24. Aish HaTorah

    Are there any Whovians here?

    Answer me this... ...Are you a Whovian? Do you know what that is? Surely there must be some of you who have been bitten by The Doctor.
  25. I thought it might be fun to start a light-hearted discussion about the 2020 presidential race... ...BUT, this isn't what you might think. If you could select ANYONE to be president, who would it be? This can be serious, although I envision it as not serious. It can be someone living or deceased. It can be an historical person or a fictional person. It can be a human or an animal or a vegetable or a mineral. It can be a cartoon character. Humor is welcome! It can be anyone or anything you choose.................but............. .........the catch is that you have to explain why you think this person (thing) would make a good president. For the sake of all of you who are not in or from the United States, I extend this invitation to you as well. Who would you like to see run your country, and why? You are also welcome (encouraged) to share more than one if you think of others. So.....who or what should be president in 2020?