The Judaism I Love… How To Live A Better Life – By Marc

UnknownThere are no coincidences… Go to Israel and you’ll see this first hand. The things that “happened”… seemingly out of nowhere… against all odds… happen all the time. It was and is remarkable.

And it continues here. Just as I have questions and confusions, a series of classes and conversations in a row all seem to address each and every point. Seek and you shall find… Or a better way to say that is seek and be open to receive.  Don’t shut out any message… any possibility… open your heart and receive the transmission.

Rabbi David Aaron’s great and classic story of cupping his open hands and “receiving the apple”, rather than grabbing for it, illustrates this point so brilliantly.

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As I move into Day 10 of what is a new, but will definitely be a lifetime habit of meditation, I understand the power of receiving more than ever.

Our brains can be loud… cluttered… chattering… causing problems and dilemmas…

Yet if we can quiet the brain, the mind, and let our hearts speak, we will receive direction, guidance and the answers we seek.

Combining meditation with my morning prayers and wrapping Tefillin is proving to be incredibly powerful, and something I would highly recommend.

I started a new class this past Thursday at Chabad of the Conejo with Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky… a three-week deal at their Academy Center For Jewish Life.

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Rabbi Shlomo (and what is with all these great Rabbis named Shlomo?) says that “Coincidence is G-d’s way of remaining anonymous.”

I love that.
And while on love, let me send love and thanks to Rabbi Avi Rabin for sending me there. This post is humbly dedicated to him and his wife, Dena, who just lost her father, Rabbi Yehoshua Binyomin Gordon.

May his memory always be for a blessing for the entire family and community. Though I never knew him, I can feel the loss.

I thank Hashem for sending me such great teachers and new friends. That is not what usually happens later in life… We tend to get more insular, more shut off, more stuck in our ways. I love that I am basically living in reverse.

Shlomo told many great stories last week, but this one really encapsulates what Judaism means for me… and why I am studying and embracing it in a way I never did before.
Rebbe ob”m asked a Rabbi if the right side is much more significant than the left… Why would the heart, which is such a significant organ, be on the left?
The Rebbe explained that a Jew’s existence is to help someone else… and thus when you are standing across from someone, your heart IS on their right side…
Let this be a way to remember that our heart belongs to our fellow human beings.

We live in difficult times… where anti-Semitism is seemingly on the rise. Where the world seems intent on destroying Jews.

I have friends who blame all the ills of the world on all religions, claiming that if the Muslims and Jews were not fighting over Israel there would be peace.

Others claim that Judaism has no spirituality… it is simply a religion of laws… cold and uncompromising.

The disillusion, amongst Jews in particular, is most frightening, and something we discussed in last night’s class with my first Shlomo, Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld.

Neither he nor I like the term “self-hating” Jews… and yet there are many Jews who disavow themselves from Judaism… put themselves and their religion down… publicly… viciously… who side with the “enemy” by embracing or starting BDS movements, bad mouthing Israel, etc.

The discussion then moved into more specifics, trying to gauge if the people around us are disillusioned, indifferent or ignorant.

Either is a scary prospect… but one I can relate to, because I was there for most of my life. I was indifferent because Judaism meant nothing more than two days a week of Hebrew school and studying for my Bar Mitzvah.  I was also ignorant, partly because I did not care as much as I should have, and partly because the way we were being taught missed the big picture and did not inspire.

“You have to” and “That’s just the way it is” does not cut the Deli Mustard!

We need to be taught, from an early age, about the beauty of Judaism… how it is designed to help make us better versions of ourselves, how it is way beyond just a set of cold laws and commandments, and more accurately, a moral and ethical way to live your life… a brilliant guide on how to get the most out of it… to find true happiness and bliss and give back to your fellow humans and the world.

Yes, we may be “disillusioned” along the way… especially after a tragedy… in a bout of depression… or if life is not going the way we planned and hoped for. I face this all the time. Many of us do…

The key is to have something to turn back to… to grab hold of… and to lead us out of the darkness. Judaism is starting to shine even brighter for me in that regard… to be my beacon… my light… and the torch that keeps me on the path… on the ladder…

Pirkei Avos and Rabbi Noah Weinberg’s 48 Ways are great places to start and to really see this. I study them several times a week. If we truly love Judaism, learn as much as we can about it and the world around us… live our lives in that way… and transmit that love and knowledge, there is a hungry world out there waiting to receive.

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Let the world see what I see… that Judaism is a religion of love and beauty and profound understanding. It is so much more than just laws and Commandments. It is human, in the best and most essential sense of that word. It encourages us to learn and question and seek… to receive AND transmit… and that is the very journey of life.

L’Chaim.

 

 

 

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