Archive | October, 2012

Just say ‘No’ (God does, too!)

24 Oct

The current generation is under the mistaken belief that it is their divine duty to ‘give the best’ to their kids. This means doing their utmost to shield their children from discomfort or disappointment. So it is now not an uncommon scene to see a parent and a young child in a supermarket with the child clutching some candy/toy etc that we know for sure was the ransom for some act of extreme blackmail. I even see it at the checkout – the parent will do ANYTHING to avoid a scene.

Well, if we learned from God’s example we wouldn’t have any problems saying ‘no’ when necessary. After all, God said ‘no’ to Moses who for his entire life longed to set foot in the Holy Land! God has been saying ‘no’ to us for generations. Not out of spite or meanness, but because, as every loving parent does, God has to set boundaries for us.

We sometimes say ‘no’ because we can’t possibly bear the discomfort of a tantrum, resentment and anger of that child. After all, he won’t thank us for it at the time (and perhaps not even later, either).

And we, like children, respond to the ‘no’s’ of God by turning our back on him, questioning His existence, taking it personally, regretting our good deeds (‘oh, so this is how God rewards me!’) and all in all, denying the fact that these are the no’s of the best Parent in the world. We turn our back on Him in a tantrum and even when he demands ‘return to me!’ we refuse. If only we understood not to take it personally, but to take it lovingly and then, only then can we give our children the type of love they really need.

Aside

the first step to learning is to realise that you don’t know….

23 Oct

While I was in my religious phase, I had it brainwashed into me; the very proof that the secular system doesn’t work is within the education system. Look at ‘our’ kids and ‘their kids’. Ours are tzanua (modest), respectful of teachers and parents and our schools aren’t zoos like those you find over there. It’s almost convincing. I was going to give my kids the opportunity to bypass all of the mess I had to wade my way through in my secular childhood. I was going to be giving my kids God, ready-wrapped on a plate!

It still wasn’t all that long ago, when I witnessed the foul language of two kids who couldn’t have been more than second grade, that I questioned whether, by pulling my kids out of a religious system, I was really doing them a favour or not.

Well, secular kids may look scary and act scary sometimes. They may be exposed, depending on what is going on in the house, to things I’d rather not expose my kids to ’till later. They may be sucked in by the ‘instant’ world of mass media. But there is one critical point. No secular child is brought up with a feeling of being ‘right’ or of knowing the answers. Their ignorance can be a blessing. It can move them on to the pathway of critical thought, of questioning and of finding their own individual connection to God. And this connection will come without fear or guilt.

The politeness and respectfulness from the religious is based upon the innate fear of societal rejection. It can be compared to behavioural codes in ‘exclusive’ societies. The urge to act out has not left. But it’s worse than that. For these children are given a one-dimensional image of who God is and how to serve him. The service of God may crush their inner selves, but the fear of rejection will reinforce a process of self-denial.

And thus, organizations are mushrooming in the religious world to ‘help’; schools for ‘off the derech’ kids, religious therapists, gurus, rehabs and quacks who are making their living out of the religious malaise. And of course, the symptoms are being dealt with but the illness itself isn’t.

Pulling away from the feeling that you have all the answers, or worse, that some religious authority does is not an easy process. But once you do, then you can get yourself a real education.

 

 

21 Oct

thanks Louisa and Avraham….

UN SENS A LA VIE ?

Si nous lisons la Bible, nous pouvons voir que Dieu a donné à l’homme des commandements ainsi que des lois à suivre. Certains les rejettent, d’autres essaient de les mettre en pratique. Malheureusement, malgré la meilleure volonté du monde, il est impossible d’observer toutes les lois.

Pourquoi Dieu aurait-Il donné des lois que nous ne pouvons pas réellement garder ? Pourquoi Dieu a-Il donné des lois à l’homme ? En fait, elles sont là pour nous montrer les êtres que nous sommes devenus : menteurs, voleurs, orgueilleux… Il n’est nullement besoin de donner des règles de conduite aux anges !

La raison pour laquelle nous sommes dans l’incapacité  d’accomplir ces lois est que nous ne pouvons pas changer notre nature humaine. C’est comme si une chenille voulait essayer de voler. Elle doit d’abord quitter sa nature de chenille et entrer dans sa nature de papillon pour ensuite voler. C’est ce…

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Aside

do all spiritual paths eventually lead to God?

21 Oct

I watched a documentary movie this weekend based on the life of Chogyam Trunpa, a controversial former Tibetan monk who founded Tibetan Buddhism in the US. I do not wish to discuss the man himself (that’s a subejct for a different discussion)

 The movie gave me an insight into what Buddhism is about and the attraction it holds for westerners. Indeed, in our materialism, pressurized lives, neuroses, our empirical way of thinking and all the other faulty Western ideas that we hold to be the be all and end all of everything, Buddhism can be a healthy antidote. Yet the goal of Buddhism, to reach ‘an enlightened state’ is a self-serving purpose. At the end of the day a person would choose Buddhist practices because they are good and healthy for him. Yes, on the way he might pull himself out of his own ego somewhat and take another pair of glasses to look at the world.

But. But we have to know that the only true antidote for everything and anything that stops us from being who we should be is God. A human being is selfish, self-seeking, self-absorbed and addicted to his physical ‘needs’. Practices like meditation are dead-ends until that person can start to think Higher. God created that ‘inner self’ that can produce calm and enlightenment, but that same inner self longs to be connected with its Creator.

But surely, one could argue, it is better for a person to be in a state of spiritual enlightenment/awareness rather than be stuck in themselves. Surely it is better to develop and to evolve, with or without God. This is an interesting question. 

 

10 Hear the word of the Lord,
    you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
    you people of Gomorrah!
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—
    what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
    of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
    in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
    who has asked this of you,
    this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
    Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
    I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
    I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
    I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
    I am not listening.

Your hands are full of blood!

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow. (Isiah chapter 1)

Hashem is calling compassion,kindness and simplicity, pure and simple but in His name.

The answer is that the yearning for God will lead to God, and not anything else. That is not to say, however that we do not have something to learn (either positive or negative) from other spiritual practices. In Isiah, God says it straight. He hates these ‘religious practices’. They mean nothing to him. Eastern practices involved heightened awareness. God wants us to come before him clean, as his own precious children and not in some meaningless ritual.

So let’s start to seek Him. If, along the way we find tools to help us for this purpose, then all the better. But we must never lose sight of the goal.

 

just singing my morning praise……..

12 Oct

When we have problems and travails, it’s easy for the problem itself to blot out your entire view of the world; everything is shaded by ‘OK. But what will be if….’ or ‘that’s all very well, but that doesn’t solve my problem of x,y and z’

No but that’s not it. It’s hard for us to put our ‘spiritual’ heads on, but there’s something incredibly whole about being broken. Not only that, it’s something that God wants from us. Our offerings to him, in a day where there is no Beit Hamikdash are tears, pain, worry, fears, sprinkled with a few frustrations. These are God’s precious fruits. Don’t ask me how and don’t ask me why. But I know they are precious to Him. The good and the bad have to be given back, for nothing is ours.

So I thank you God, this morning for giving me this insight and for constantly reminding me of Your presence in my life. I thank you for the air I breathe, and another morning in this amazing universe, that constantly fills me with wonder. I thank you for the loved ones around me. I thank You for the gifts you have given me that are too numerous to mention – even the gift of being able to sing Your praise eloquently! I thank You for the love You given me, in knowing that I am never truly alone. I know that none of these were given to me because I was deserving. Quite the opposite. I had nothing when I came into this world; and like a new-born baby, I am still wholly dependent upon You for everything You give me.

I pray you will continue to grant me calmness of spirit, and you will stop me from giving that part of me that belongs to You to anything or anybody else.

10 Oct

I would gladly reblog and translate all of Louisa’s blogs- but gere’s one that really speaks to me.

this is my translation of what Louisa wrote – Louisa, I hope it’s accurate enough.

What do we have to do for God to answer us?

God is constantly reminding me that nothing can take the place of the intimate relationship I have with Him; no teacher, guide or rabbi can make that personal step of opening the heart instead of God Himself.

God did not leave me alone in this world; his spirit is always beside me to love and comfort me. And the tanach is also here to give me feedback for life.

When I studied at university, there were so many lecturers in various subjects and I drew a lot  of knowledge from each one, but eventually I had to leave them and enter the reality of being unaccompanied by a person, just by God Himself.

This morning I received from Yeshayahu 63 chapter 14 . ‘As animals spread out in a valley, the spirit of the Lord guided them, so You guided Your people to make You a glorious name.’

If God looks after the cattle,  then why, should he not look after us?

Therefore, for all of those who can’t stop themselves saying ‘What should we do to be with God?’ What do we do with a baby who is crying from hunger? Would we tell him to go to the grocer’s to buy some milk? God, like a parent, hears our cries immediately.

God, reveal Yourself to our empty hearts, enter into our painful lives and answer us.

 

אלוהים ואני

אלוהים תמיד מזכיר לי שאף אחד ושום דבר לא יכולים להחליף את הקשר האינטימי שלי עימו.

אף מורה, מנחה, רבי, לא יכול לעשות את הצעד האישי של פתיחת הלב לאלוהים במקומנו.

אלוהים לא השאיר אותי בודדה בעולם הזה: רוחו הקדושה תמיד לצידי כדי לאהוב ולנחם.

וגם התנ”ך כאן כדי לתת מענה לחיים.

במשך החיים אנחנו שואבים ידע והנחיות ממומחים בתחומים שונים, אך לבסוף חייבים לצאת למציאות בלי ליווי של בן אדם, רק של אלוהים עצמו.

הבקר קראתי בישעיהו סג’:יד’:

“כמו שהחיה יורדת לעמק [כדי לאכול עשב]

כך רוח אלוהים הביאה אותנו למנוחה,

וכך אלוהים מכוון אותנו”

אם אלוהים דואג לפרה הוא לא ידאג לנו?

אז לכל אלה מאיתנו שלא יכולים להמנע מלשאול מה צריך לעשות כדי להיות עם אלוהים?

מה היינו עושים אם התינוק שלנו היה בוכה מרעב? היינו אומרים לו ללכת להכין לעצמו בקבוק חלב?

כך גם אלוהים שומע את קולנו מיד.

אלוהים, אבא אוהב, תתגלה לליבנו הריק, הכנס…

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we are all lost souls

8 Oct


Originally we had things straight. Until things failed to go according to plan, that is. God put us in the garden of Eden, a place where we were safe, secure and connected. Our Father was nearby, with an ever watchful Eye and we basked in his presence, as a child feels secure simply knowing his parent is nearby. God gave us, his children, one instruction; not to venture beyond the secure boundaries of His garden.
But we, as children do, wanted to ‘test’ our boundaries and we willingly abandoned the safety and security of Gan Eden. We ventured into a wilderness that had no resemblance to the lives we knew in our ‘family home’. We became lost, and then more lost as the years went on. Until we even forgot that we had become orphaned from a parent who was the best Father in the world.

And God, as any parent would, never gave up on us returning home and continued to search for us in the wilderness for years and years and years. And He is still searching for us today. And for those of us who want to hear,  who want to know, He is calling us. His patience is eternal. His cries are faint at first. But if we stop, and listen we can hear His voice.
It is time for His children to come home.