Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Beauty of Mathematics and wolf in sheep clothing and Old City Yeshivas

Being in the Almighty's Favor

The Chofetz Chaim (one of great sages from the 1900's)  writes that because we are so involved in worldly matters, we lose our sensitivity to the great amount of joy we can potentially experience when performing a mitzvah (good deed). He offers the analogy of a man who was granted an audience with a powerful ruler. Imagine that the ruler is greatly impressed with the man, and has the conversation recorded in his personal diary. What a thrill! Upon returning home, the man's face would glow with elation as he retells his experience to all his friends and neighbors. Even if he'd previously been worried over personal problems, he'd quickly forget them! Over the next years, whenever he'd meet others at some gathering, his successful meeting with the ruler would invariably be the topic of conversation.
Says the Chofetz Chaim: If this is the joy of someone who found favor with a mortal (who will eventually die and whose glory is short-lived), all the more so should we feel joy when we doing something which finds favor with the eternal Creator of the universe. Even afterward, when recalling the good deed, we will feel a glow of pleasure. In fact, the Torah (Deut. 28:47) stresses that we should feel more joy in serving the Almighty than from all other pleasures that exist.
Love Yehuda Lave
I am practicing what I preach above, by studying G-d's word every day in Yeshivah. It is a thousand times more fulfilling than fighting with the IRS.
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Subject: The Beauty of Mathematics

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The Beauty
of  Mathematics...

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The Danger of False Piety (A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing)
By my Rabbi, Rabbi Efriam Sprecher

To our sorrow, these past few months we have witnessed painful divisions and shocking hatred within Israeli society. What is particularly tragic is what triggered these divisions and animosities. It was the criminal actions of a small group of hooligans. The fact that they were dressed in Charedi garb should not deceive us. Their acts of verbal abuse and other degrading behavior constitute a gross violation of Torah Judaism and are a Chilul Hashem – a desecration of G-d's Holy Name.
The Vilna Gaon warned us to beware of false piety. The example that he gives is from Megillat Esther. King Ahasveros hosted a grand banquet to celebrate the defeat of the Jewish people. The reason for the grand party at this time was to celebrate the destruction of the Holy Temple and the fact that it had not yet been rebuilt.
At the banquet, King Ahasveros used the sacred vessels of the Holy Temple, which he had received from his wife's grandfather, King Nebucadnezar of Babylon, who had destroyed the Holy Temple. During the party he dressed up in the clothing of the High Priest.
The Vilna Gaon says that a person who appears religious and pious on the outside, but does not act so on the inside, is like the wicked King Ahasverosh, wearing the clothing of the High Priest. King Ahasveros, an evil enemy of the Jewish people, masquerading in the garments of the High Priest, was certainly not the High Priest.
So too, says the Vilna Gaon, a person who presents an outer image of religious faith and piety, yet does not live by those values he projects, causes enormous damage to Judaism. People who dress as Charedi Jews and yet defy the Halacha's standards of ethical behavior are not truly Charedi. People, dressed as Charedim, who assault, verbally abuse, or degrade other people or cause emotional pain through the disgraceful misuse of Holocaust symbolism, are like the evil Ahasveros dressing up in the clothes of the High Priest.
Any person who verbally or emotionally abuses or degrades another person cannot be called Charedi. The severity of the sin of publicly humiliating someone is likened to murder, according to the Talmud (BAVA METZIA 58b), and the perpetrator has no share in the World to Come.
One of the greatest rabbinic leaders of the twentieth century, the Chofetz Chaim, lamented about dispute and dissension/ machloket in many of his letters and in his books. He writes that machloket together with lashon hara (verbal abuse) causes death and destruction in the Jewish community.
The Chofetz Chaim also cites the Talmud that says that G-d will forgive the sin of idol worship more easily that the sin of machloket. The proof of this is that G-d forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf by giving them the Second Tablets, but did not forgive those who were involved in the sin of Korach's machloket against Moshe.
The Talmud in Yoma 9b states that the First Temple was destroyed because of the three cardinal sins: murder, sexual immortality and idolatry. That exile lasted only 70 years until the Jews returned and built the Second Temple. The Talmud asks: Why was the Second Temple destroyed when most of the Jews were supposedly Torah observant? The Talmud answers: Because of the sin of hatred, lashon hara and machloket. And this exile, unlike the first, is almost 2000 years long.
Our motto and goal must be the verse in Mishlei 3:17 which describes the vital character of the Torah and those who observe it: "Her ways are ways of sweet pleasantness and all her paths are those of peace".


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