Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Drawing on Metaphysical Resources in This World to Achieve Eternity

I sometimes like to listen to music while I am driving.  Not enough to actually buy CDs, so I have the radio tuned to a country western station.  The nice thing about country western is that the lyrics are usually reasonably about "down home values" and/or losing the same.  (You know what happens when you play a country western song backwards?  You get your dog, your job, and your wife back.)  Unfortunately, though, radio is really a sales media that hooks you in with music. If I hear an ad, then I just turn the radio off; better luck next time.  This morning, though, before I could get the radio switched off, I heard one line from an ad campaign: "All men are created equal; then they get dressed."  Holy hashgacha!  That was just what I needed to understand a G"ra I had learned with my Mishlei chavrusa this morning.

The G"ra is on Mishlei 6:20, for those of you who want to look it up yourself; which I highly recommend.  It's one of those G"ra's that is using the Mishlei as a jumping off point to explain something very fundamental about reality.  The relationship between Torah and mitzvos, the G"ra explains is analogous to the relationship between chachma (wisdom) and bina (understanding).  Torah and chochma work behind the scenes motivating and rendering decisions.  Mitzvos and bina are the tools to actually express those decisions.  Similarly, a person is comprised of a spiritual, hidden component, and a physical and revealed component.  The spiritual is, obviously, the neshama.  The physical, however, is not just the body; it is also the clothing and place of residence.  All three of those, notes the G"ra are needed to get one's job done in this world.

At this point, one might ask, "So what's the difference between a goy and a Jew?  We both have souls, bodies, clothing, and residences.  True enough, but the difference between a goy and a Jew is something like the difference between little computer in your cell phone and a super computer.  They look very similar and a super computer can run all the same programs as that little guy in your cell phone; though maybe not as effectively, as it wasn't designed for that.  A Jew was designed and built for a wholly different purpose than the goy; a Jew is designed for holiness -- infinite potential.  To be effective, though, the Jew needs to access those potentials; he needs to hook them up the power source, as it were.

The G"ra says that pasuk that begins, "With seven per day I praise You..." (T'hillim 119:164), is referring to the seven mitzvos with which we connect our physicality to their source of k'dusha: t'fillin (2) on the body, tzitzis (4) on the body, mezuzah (1).  Use those and you are catapulted from just part of the system to a vehicle that connects actions in this world to eternal reward in the next.  Ignore those and you are a tragically sad waste of potential.

The G"ra also notes that the mitzvah of arba minim is also seven; shades of the Shelah HaKodesh.  In case you are wondering why tztitzis counts as four even though it is only one mitzvah while t'fillin shel rosh counts as only one even though it is four boxes... I have a m'halach in that.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…