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Author Archives: ralevinsohn
Saw Gabriel Royal playing live in Bedford Av station….soul stirring. Enjoy!
[Rav Kook's views on the Temple service are sometimes misconstrued. A superficial reading of a passage in Olat Re'iyah(vol. I, p. 292) indicates that only grain offerings will be offered in the reinstated Temple service. To properly understand Rav Kook's approach, it is necessary to read a related essay from Otzarot HaRe'iyah.]
What will the rebuilt Temple be like? Will we really offer animal sacrifices once again?
Some people object to the idea of sacrifices out of concern for the welfare of animals. However, this objection contains a measure of hypocrisy. Why should compassion for animals only be expressed with regard to humanity’s spiritual needs? If our opposition to animal slaughter is based not on weakness of character, but on recognition of the issue’s fundamental morality, then our first step should be to outlaw the killing of animals for food, clothing, and other material benefits.
In the world’s present state, the human race is weak, both physically and morally. The hour to protect animal life has not yet arrived. We still need to slaughter animals for our physical needs, and human morality requires that we maintain clear boundaries to distinguish between the relative value of human and animal life.
At this point in time, to advocate the protection of animals in our service of God is disingenuous. Is it moral to permit cruelty towards animals for our physical needs, yet forbid their use for our spiritual service, in sincere recognition and gratitude for God’s kindness? If our dedication and love for God can be expressed – at its highest level — with our willingness to surrender our own lives and die “al kiddush Hashem,“ sanctifying God’s name, then certainly we should be willing to forgo the life of animals for this sublime goal.
The Return of Prophecy
Currently, however, we are not ready for an immediate restoration of the sacrificial service. Only with the return of prophecy will it be possible to restore the Temple order. In a letter penned in 1919, Rav Kook explained:
|“With regard to sacrifices, it is more correct to believe that all aspects will be restored to their place. … We should not be overly troubled by the views of European culture. In the future, God’s word to His people will elevate all the foundations of culture to a level above that attainable by human reason.|
|“It is inappropriate to think that sacrifices only reflect the primitive idea of a worship of flesh. This service possesses a holy inner nature that cannot be revealed in its beauty without the illumination of God’s light to His people [the return of prophecy] and a renewal of holiness to Israel. And this will be recognized by all peoples. But I agree with your honor that we should not approach the practical aspects of sacrifices without the advent of revealed divine inspiration in Israel.” (Igrot HaRe’iyah vol. IV p. 24)|
The Future World
In the writings of the Kabbalists, we find a remarkable description of how the universe will look in the future, a world vastly changed from our current reality. All aspects of the universe will be elevated. Even the animals in that future era will be different; they will advance to the level of people nowadays (Sha’ar Hamitzvot of the Ari z”l). Obviously, no sacrifice could be offered from such humanlike animals. At that time, there will no longer be strife and conflict between the species. Human beings will no longer need to take the lives of animals for their physical, moral, and spiritual needs.
It is about this distant time that the Midrash makes the startling prediction, “All sacrifices will be annulled in the future“ (Tanchuma Emor 19, Vayikra Rabbah 9:7). The prophet Malachi similarly foretold of a lofty world in which the Temple service will only consist of grain offerings, in place of the animal sacrifices of old:
|“Then the grain-offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to God as in the days of old, and as in ancient years.” (Malachi 3:4)|
Hints to the Future
Even in the current reality, we may feel uncomfortable about killing animals. This does not mean that the time for full animal rights has already arrived. Rather, these feelings come from a hidden anticipation of the future that is already ingrained in our souls, like many other spiritual aspirations.
Hints of these future changes may be found in the text of the Torah itself. Thus, it says that offerings are slaughtered on the northern side of the altar. Why this side? The north traditionally represents that which is incomplete and lacking, as it is written, “Out of the north, the evil shall break forth“ (Jeremiah 1:14). In other words, the need to slaughter animals is a temporary concession to life in an incomplete world.
Furthermore, the Torah stipulates that sacrifices must be slaughtered lirtzonchem — ‘willingly’ (Lev. 19:5). The Temple service must correspond to our needs and wants. As the Talmud in Erchin 21a explains, one must be able to say, ‘I want to bring this offering.’ When the slaughter of animals is no longer generally acceptable to society, this condition will not be fulfilled.
Finally, the Torah describes a person offering an animal sacrifice asadam (Lev. 1:2). This word indicates our current state of moral decline, a result of the unresolved sin of Adam, the first man. An individual offering a grain offering, on the other hand, is callednefesh, or ‘soul’ (Lev. 2:1). The word nefesh implies a deeper, more essential level of humanity, independent of any temporary failings.
A beauty beyond skin deep – The story of Penny Loker
As a little girl, she never got a valentine at school parties.
As a teenager, she never had a best friend, a boyfriend or a date.
As a woman, she’s never had a relationship. She’s never been kissed.
Her dream to one day become a wife and mother is fading as she grapples with the reality that it may never happen.
Penny Loker, 31, was born with hemifacial microsomia andGoldenhar Syndrome, two birth defects that left her with a disfigured face. Hemifacial microsomia causes a malformation of the ear and/or the structure of the lower jaw. Goldenhar Syndrome is a congenital condition that produces abnormalities of the head and the bones of the spinal column. It usually affects the appearance of eyes, ears, facial bones and the mouth.
Her only regret?
“I have so much love to give and I would love to share that with a family of my own. I understand it will probably never happen, and I’m learning to accept it. But I am sad about it,” she says. “It feels like the one great loss in my life.
See the rest of the article here – A Beauty Beyond (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/14/health/loker-profile/index.html?hpt=hp_c4)
“Thus the phrase “Israel, is through you that I am proud,” means in the eyes of the other nations. But as the Gemera implies, it is only through their fulfillment of the mitzvos bein adam la’chaveiro (between man and his fellow) that Jews can be boatsful before the gentiles. The gentiles do not scrutinize us to see if we buy high quality tefillin or a beautiful estrog, but rather whether we are truthful in our business dealings. Hence, when the gentiles are immoral and corrupt, it may not require much on our part to be boastful by comparison. However, if the gentiles are themselves ethical and decent people, we must raise our own standards if we are to continue being held up as a paragon of virtue by all the nations of the world. Therefore, it is important that we take notice of any desirable qualities or conduct amongst the gentiles, and take them to heart, since this will likely inspire us to improve our own conduct.
In view of all this, it is incumbent upon us to contemplate and draw the appropriate lessons from a truly troubling phenomenon that we face today. Consider the following: A large city like New York, whose population includes members of almost every nationality on earth – people of different faiths, different views, and even different appearances – has nevertheless managed through its own wisdom to institute order and unity among all its inhabitants, with equal rights for each and every individual, a single school system for all its children, and a single court system that is accepted by all.
Yet we Jews, who have a single Torah that guides us all, are incapable of setting up one Bais Din (religious court) for the entire community and one cheder all the children, are as divided as if we were a nation of seventy nationalities. Even if this were our only sin, there would be no greater chilul Hashem. Therefore, blessed be the lot of the Jew who can help bring about a change for the better in this matter.
“Eyes to See” – Pg 253 to 254 – Rabbi Yom Tov Schwarz
If you don´t see yourself as part of the problem, you cannot be part of the solution.
Every culture teaches this through a similar story. Joseph Campbell, anthropologist and advisor for Star Wars, called it “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” The hero starts his journey feeling at the mercy of external circumstances. By the end, he realizes he is in control of his destiny. He knows that he can choose how to behave, learn and grow.
Teaching accounting at MIT, I saw how numbers shape perceptions. Coaching leaders all over the world, I learned how stories shape lives. Good stories inspire you; bad stories disempower you. The worst stories are the ones that have you as a victim.
Heroes are not just mythical characters. They are examples of you at your best. Here are five suggestions to always remember who you are.
1. No problem — Take the challenge
There is no such thing as a problem. What you call “a problem” is not a thing independent of you, but a situation you don´t like. It is “a problem for you.” To deal with it more effectively, put yourself in the picture. Think of it as your challenge. Take the difficulty as an opportunity to show your true colors.
I often catch myself saying, “the real problem is…” followed by the thought, “…that you don´t agree with me!” Equally often, my counterpart argues that “the real problem is…” that I don´t agree with him. Unless we recognize and give up these bad stories, we will each push hard to overcome the other. Push versus push equals stuck: a very expensive stalemate where we both spend tremendous energy for no result.
2. Drop “Who’s responsible?” – Be response-able
You didn’t do it. So what? You are suffering from it. People and things are out of control. It is tempting to blame them and play the part of the innocent victim. Don’t. The price of innocence is impotence. That which you blame you empower. Become the hero of the story; focus on what you can do to respond to your challenge.
The inspiring question is not, “why is this happening to me!” but “what is the best I can do when this happens?”
I once coached a financial services executive who would always blame external factors: regulation, competition, the economy, his employees, his boss, his peers. All these forces did impinge on his goals. It was the truth, but not the whole truth. The truth that he refused to accept, the one that blocked his growth, was that he was able to respond to these forces.
3. Forget what you don´t want – Focus on what you want.
Consider an issue that troubles you. What would you like to have happen? I ask this every time I coach. Infallibly, I learn what my client would like to not have happen anymore. This is a bad end for a hero´s journey. Avoiding what you don´t want will take your energy away from achieving what you do want.
Your brain doesn’t compute “no”. What you try to avoid you unconsciously create. If you don´t believe this, try to not think of a white bear right now and notice where your mind goes. Define a positive outcome precisely. Ask yourself, “What do I really want?” and visualize it in as much detail as you can. This will force you to put some flesh on the conceptual bones. Furthermore, ask yourself, “How would I know that I got what I wanted? What would I see? What would I feel?” In this way you will be sure that your vision has observable standards by which to measure success.
4. Take one eye off the ball – Go for the gold.
It’s not about hitting the ball; it’s about winning the game. Set your mind on what you are ultimately trying to achieve. Build a chain from means to ends, taking you from getting the job, to advancing your career, to feeling professionally fulfilled, to being happy. The ultimate goal and measure of success is happiness.
“What would you get, if you achieved X, which is even more important to you than X?” Ask yourself this question and discover that you never ask for what you really want—and neither does anybody else. We all ask for what we think is going to give us what we really want. Have you ever bought set of golf clubs hoping they would make you play better? And what would you get, if you played better, which is even more important to you than playing better?
5. Failure is not an option – Succeed beyond success.
Commit fully to achieve what you really want. Know that you deserve it and give it your best. This will make you more likely to get it. Success, however, is not the most important thing. To be a hero, pursue your goal ethically, as an expression of your highest values. Success may give you pleasure, but integrity leads to happiness.
Don’t aim at success–the more you aim at it and make it (your final) target, the more you are going to miss it. For true success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself. Listen to what your conscience commands you to do and carry it out to the best of your knowledge.” — Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.
Questions for Readers
How is life challenging you to be a hero right now? What values would you have to express to be proud of yourself regardless of the outcome?
(Source: Linkedin post by Fred Kofman Director at Conscious Business Center)
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. — And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. — Isaiah 2:3-4