Tuesday, August 30, 2011

G-d made _____ happen BECAUSE...

There is a tendency for human beings in distress to ask the Eternal question, "Why?"

The "whys" that have been proposed to us in the rabbinical world range from "Why can't I make more money" to "Why did G-d allow/cause the Holocaust".

In nearly all of these cases, any question that starts with "Why did G-d..." does not have a worldly answer.

We must remember that most of the people who ask these types of questions are in great pain. Our obligation is not to answer their unanswerable question, but to attend to their pain and help them find a way out of their distress.

A bigger problem occurs when some individuals attempt to answer these questions.

There have always been self-appointed "diviners" who will offer up some connection between tragedy and transgression.

I loathe to link to any of their content, lest these charlatans receive more publicity. If you're interested, search on Youtube for the name of any tragic event, and you will inevitably find a video that will forcefully assert, "G-d made _______ happen BECAUSE..."

The Torah has already warned us against this.

"You shall not eat the blood [of an animal] ; neither shall you practice divination nor soothsaying." (Lev. 19:26)

Divination is the act of explaining G-d's actions on Earth. Soothsaying is casting spells, chanting mantras; anything that (we think) will somehow bypass G-d's control of the universe, and grant us some material benefit.

What is the connection between eating an animal's blood, and divination or soothsaying?

Perhaps we can say that, just as the concept of eating blood is so repulsive to us physically, we should feel spiritually disgusted by these spiritual transgressions.

How can we engender such a strong feeling against these practices? By understanding the true nature of G-d.

When we continuously learn, teach, and live a true understanding of the Holy One, severe mistakes in spiritual thinking become all the more apparent to us.

G-d is Infinite; beyond time, beyond space, beyond physicality, beyond the limits of human logic. It is the ultimate folly to try and limit the rationale for G-d's actions to whatever our limited minds can conceive.

The bottom line is, anyone who finishes the sentence "G-d made this happen BECAUSE" is transgressing an explicit Torah law.

When we are able to accept that we can't explain the Heavenly cause of apparently bad (or apparently good) events, we come one step closer to a sincere connection with our Creator.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

9th of Av - from destruction to rebuilding

Please watch (and recommend) this video to anyone who cares about the future of the Jewish people.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A friend in time of need

When Itzik (Yitzchak) comes home from school, there is no one to greet him. His mother works ten hours a day as a cleaner in a local office building.

His father, tragically, was murdered by Hizbullah terrorists during the Second Lebanon War.

With no money for after-school activities, no one to help him with his homework, and little available in the city, what can we expect from little Itzik?

At best, he will sit in front of the TV all afternoon. Unfortunately, there are more dangerous temptations that may lure him out onto the streets.

For far too long, this has been the norm in periphery towns in Israel. Even children who are blessed with two parents often do not have any positive adult interaction throughout most of their childhood. There are simply too many bills to pay, and not enough hours in the day for many working-class Israeli parents. Since they must work long hours to survive, their children are left without any guidance.

Two young boys in Akko, and their 'Big Brothers' - students from our yeshiva
Our 'Big Brothers' style program provides these latch-key kids with positive role models.  Whether they help with homework, run an activity in our brand new Educational Center, or simply organize a game of soccer, our students make a big impact in the lives of Akko's youth.

We hope, as this program continues, that some of the boys who have benefited from this program will eventually be inspired to attend our yeshiva.  As they prepare to give back to their community, they will also receive an excellent Jewish education, and in turn, strengthen the Jewish population of Akko.

We need your help to continue this program.  Please give generously today!