Forum Replies Created
Curiosity, on the “indicated” issue, that was a quote from Chayei Moharan, written by Rabbi Nosson Sternhartz, who was the closest chasid to the Rebbe and served as his defacto successor (though Breslov gedolim have never used the title of rebbe). Rebbe Nachman must have known he was dying — his yarzheit is on 18 Tishrei, not very long after his last Rosh Hashana — and made it clear to Reb Nosson that he wanted people to visit his kever.
I see what you’re saying about tzedakah. But from the quotes I provided, it’s clear that Rebbe Nachman believed visiting him on Rosh Hashana would benefit the entire world. So it’s understandable to collect tzedakah. If I were in charge, however, I wouldn’t raise funds for Uman trips from non-Breslovers, because it might send the wrong message (that mystical pilgrimages are more important than helping the poor with their basic needs.)
One more thing about women. Rebbe Nachman asked, “Why don’t you make your wives Chasidistehs (chassidim)?”(Siach Sarfei Kodesh 2, 1-14). So he wanted women to follow his derech too.
Curiosity: Good questions. Here’s the answer about women. From a Breslover website:
“Some newcomers to Breslov assume that the Rosh Hashana gathering in the city of Uman, near Rebbe Nachman’s gravesite, was always a ‘for men only’ event. However, prior to the Stalinist purges, women also attended prayer services in the Breslover Kloiz on Rosh Hashana, as well as on Shabbos and the Yomim Tovim. In fact, it was the personal custom of Rav Avraham Sternhartz, the Baal Tokei’ah and Baal Musaf, upon leaving the synagogue to offer holiday greetings to the women waiting outside for their husbands and sons.
The main reason women today are discouraged from traveling to the Rosh Hashana gathering in Uman is because under present circumstances, it would be impossible to accommodate large numbers of women without serious breaches of tznius (modesty). However, groups of women travel to Uman throughout the year, where they, too, recite the Tikkun HaKlalli, the ten psalms prescribed by Rebbe Nachman to heal the soul.”
Tajik: Not exactly. He didn’t exactly promise Olam Haba, and it’s not specific to Rosh Hashana. Here’s the main quote from Sichos Haran 141:
“Bear witness to my words. When my days are over and I leave this world, I will still intercede for anyone who comes to my grave, says these Ten Psalms and gives a penny to charity. No matter how great his sins, I will do everything in my power, spanning the length and breadth of creation , to save him and cleanse him….”
In addition, in Chayei Moharan (a collection of various oral traditions about Rebbe Nachman from Rabbi Nosson of Breslov), the following sentence is added: “I will pull him by his peyos out of gehenom.”
A little unusual? Yes. But the Zohar says a tzaddik is greater after death than while living, so it’s conceivable that a tzaddik could “intercede” in some way with one’s soul after death. And I think it’s obvious that the part about the peyos is meant to be figurative, not literal. Obviously, peyos don’t come with you to the afterlife. It may sound like he’s promising Olam Haba, but I don’t think that’s the intended meaning.
Wolf, the difference is that R’ Emden had minority halachic views, while the directive to visit the Rebbe’s kever on RH is not against halacha — it is a minhag of a chassidic group. It is normal to follow a minhag of your rebbe even if other people oppose it. (As with sheitels v. headcoverings, techeiles, etc.)
Curiosity, it’s not a comparison. Rebbe Nachman’s explicit advice to his followers was to visit his kever on Rosh HaShana. Breslovers are doing just that — following his advice. If you don’t like the word advice, well then call it a custom, as Rebbe Nachman does himself (see below). Surely it’s legitimate to follow a minhag established by your rebbe?
“It is customary to go to the Tzaddik to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is first and foremost the Day of Judgement. But no matter how great the severity of the judgement and no matter where in the world it threatens, everything is sweetened when Jews gather around the Tzaddik on Rosh Hashanah. With so many Jewish souls gathered together and merged in abundant love, a wonderful joy and delight come into the world.”(From Likutei Eitzos, Rosh HaShana).
Also, from Chayey Moharan (#403):
“Everyone, without exception, who counts himself as one of my followers or takes heed of what I say should come to me for Rosh Hashanah. Anyone who is worthy of being with me for Rosh Hashanah should be very happy: ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10).
“The Rebbe once declared: ‘Gohr mein zach is Rosh Hashanah . . . My entire mission is Rosh Hashanah.’ He was particularly emphatic about his followers coming to him for Rosh Hashanah, and indicated on his last Rosh Hashanah in Uman that we should continue to do so even after his death.”
Itche, women don’t go to Uman for Rosh HaShana because of tznius concerns. However, many women do go at other times of the year — about 10,000 to 15,000, in fact. See the “What Women Seek in Uman” article on the website of the Breslov Research Institute.
Choppy, you say not eating meat at all must stem from some kind of apikorsus. All I can say is, tell that to the dozens of Orthodox rabbis who are vegetarians, and the many other authorities who were supportive of vegetarianism. (See R’ Dovid Sears’ book for more information). Also, many people go vegetarian for one particular reason, such as health arguments by certain well-known doctors or tzaar baalei chayim concerns, but many go vegetarian after looking at all the arguments — health, environmental, animal, etc. — and decide that it just makes sense. If you read my previous comments, you’ll see that I do think there are certain hashkafic dangers to vegetarianism, but that doesn’t mean that’s it’s not permitted or that it’s a sign of kefira.
Wolf: The issue of taking a concubine, as R’ Emden advocated, is much different, because that was a proposal by a single rabbi to overturn centuries of universal rabbinic consensus. Visiting a kever of a tzaddik on Rosh Hashana is different because there’s a lot of support for it (several generations of Breslov rabbis in various countries, Birkei Yosef, Pri ha’Aretz, Sedei Chemed, etc.), and no clear prohibition.
Not exactly, but there are many Torah ideas that are consistent with live and let live. On the other hand, we are supposed to engage in kiruv, loving all creatures and bringing them closer to Torah.
1) “Judge every person favorably” (Avos 1:6)
2) “Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place.” (Avos 2:5)
3) There are countless statements of Chazal about the importance of humility, and publicly criticizing other people (the alternative to “live and let live”) isn’t exactly humble.
4) Embarassing another person (such as through public criticism) is considered as bad as shedding blood.
5) I think it was Rav Hillel the Elder who said that no one in his generation was qualified to offer reproof. And that was a generation of spiritual giants!
The tikkun of animal souls isn’t as simple as it seems. In fact, vegetable foods also have souls, and at least one source says that “The souls hidden within vegetation are even more precious and lofty than those hidden within the animal realm.” (Rabbi Nosson Sternhartz, Likkutei Halachos, Yoreh De’ah, Chadash 3:10).
There are also teachings to the effect that “Only a Torah scholar who is God-fearing and eats with proper intent can rectify [the sparks of holiness within] the animals the Torah deems to be pure.” (Chaim Vital quoting the Arizal, Sha’ar HaMitzvos, Eikev, p.100O). Others say that certain prayers must be said at the meal to achieve the recitification, or that it only works if the “desire of his entire being for God must be present.”
Ramak, in his Shiur Komah, actually says it is dangerous to eat meat because impure souls can be attached to his soul. The Arizal also cautioned not to eat more than the minimum of meat for the same reason, and advocates abstaining from meat all week. These statements wouldn’t make any sense if it were important to shecht as many animals as possible (as you suggest). See the discussion in S’dei Chemed, Vol. 5, Inyan Achilah, which is very favorable to vegetarianism.
So the rectification of souls is one argument for eating meat, but there are also counterarguments. See R’ Sears’ book for more sources.
Curiosity, from my understanding Rav Moshe just answered the questions asked of him. Anyway, I don’t have the psak in front of me so we don’t really know what was in it and what wasn’t.
One thing to consider is that the obligation of relieving the suffering of animals is a mitzvah d’oraysa, while the teachings about the rectification of souls are kabbalistic hashkafa (and authors within the same hashkafah caution against eating meat — see below). So I think it’s legitimate to lean in favor of fulfilling the mitzvah, by refusing to support the farmers engaging in mass animal cruelty (and working for better laws, etc.), instead of acting in accordance with one selective reading of the kabbalistic tradition. I think it’s odd that people have no problem with boycotting Target for promoting toevah but oppose boycotting factory farms for all the unnecessary cruelty and abuse they cause.
Wolf: Yes, that’s right. It’s a core principle of chassidus that it is important to have a connection with a tzaddik, who gives you advice (above and beyond making halachic rulings) about how to achieve your tikkun, your neshama’s purpose in the world. When you have a connection to a tzaddik, and he gives you advice, of course you take it! And Rebbe Nachman’s strong advice to his followers was to come to his kever on Rosh HaShana. (The rest of his advice is compiled in Likutei Eitzos, among other places). Now, if the “tzaddik’s” advice is against halacha, then of course the answer is to get out of there and find someone else to follow. But it’s not against halacha to visit the grave of a tzaddik on Rosh HaShana.
Think about the Gra’s statement that he would have walked across Europe to meet Ramchal. If Ramchal had given him advice, do you think he would have taken it? I would think so. So it’s not necessarily just a chassidic thing. If you had stood in line to get the Chazon Ish’s blessing and he gave you advice, wouldn’t you do what he said?
Choppy, no one on this thread has claimed the shechita is inhumane. Certainly, some animal rights activists have claimed it is, but they’re wrong. What I was referring to is the conditions on farms before slaughter, and it is very well-documented that all kinds of cruel and unnecessary practices go on there.
Curiosity, by your logic, then we shouldn’t have a problem with buying stolen goods, because someone else will buy them anyway! Rav Moshe Feinstein forbade raising veal in cramped crates. I don’t believe he said, yes, it’s an aveira to treat them that way but go ahead and eat such veal as long as a non-Jew owned it!
I’m not an expert on this topic but here’s my 2 cents. First, Rebbe Nachman specifically told his followers to come to his kever on Rosh HaShana. Second, he also wrote (Likutei Morahan 2:109) that the graves of tzaddikim have the kedushah of eretz yisroel (“mamash” he added). It’s not surprising that non-Breslover rabbonim would rule that it is forbidden to go to Uman on Rosh HaShana (as many Israeli rabbis have). But when a great tzaddik says to do something, and you follow that tzaddik, you can and should do it.
It’s true that many people who go are not full-fledged Breslov chassidim, but nearly all of them are inspired to some degree by Breslov chassidus (for example, many are BTs or on the road to becoming BTs in part because of studying Rebbe Nachman’s works).
Also, many people who go find that it makes a huge difference in their lives. This includes women who go at other (non-Rosh HaShana times). Interestingly, though, there is apparently a small proportion of Breslov chassidim in Israel who do not believe in going to Uman — but I’m not sure who they are and what their reasoning is.
Sure, people could have spent the money on tzedakah instead. But you can say that about a bunch of things — siyum hashas, eating at restaurants, going on vacation, pesach hotels, etc.
When something bad happens, we say gamzu l’tovah (Shulchan Aruch OC 230:5), but we also examine our deeds. According to Chazal even the most trivial inconveniences are sent by Hashem as punishment (Shabbos 55a). In In Forest Fields by Rav Shalom Arush, I believe he gives many examples of something bad happening, the person taking a minute to search his deeds, find something wrong and do teshuvah, and then the “bad thing” completely resolves itself. (Rav Arush even applies this to such things as putting children to bed — if they’re misbehaving, he’ll examine his deeds and do teshuvah, and once he’s done the kids stop acting up.)
In terms of whether you should keep trying when things don’t go your way — I would keep trying unless you’re too exhausted and need a break. Ask Hashem what to do — perhaps that will clarify things. (See the Bilvavi seforim for discussions of the role of personal prayer in everyday mundane situations; Breslov seforim also have a lot of information on how we should relate to “hints” that Hashem sends us throughout the day).
Choppy, that’s not correct. Rambam says one should eat meat on Shabbos, but the Shulchan Aruch does not rule that it is mandatory. Neither does the Shulchan Aruch HaRav. Or the Mishnah Berurah (242:1:6). It’s the same for Yom Tov.
Curiosity, I’m not aware of rabbonim considered gedolim who are vegetarians for reasons of tzaar baalei chayim, but I’m also not aware of a single gadol would has said that factory farm conditions are consistent with halacha. In fact, every rabbi I have ever heard of who has actually looked into the facts of how animals are treated (I’m talking about pre-shechita here) has concluded there are grave violations. Many well-known rabbis — the Nazir of Jerusalem, his son the current Chief Rabbi of Haifa, R’ David Rosen the former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, prolific chassidic author Dovid Sears, the Kaminetzer Maggid — were vegetarians, and animal welfare concerns were often one of the main motivations.
Curiosity, the vegan diet may be extreme historically, but vegans are not loony. They have the reputation of being a little intense, but that is often due to the zeal of the 17-year old converted — that is to say, a small minority of unpleasant of extreme people. In my experience with (non-frum) vegans, they are mainly normal, and don’t try to convert everyone or militantly oppose things like zoos and honey.
The Chida said that women can be taught Gemara; they just can’t be forced to learn. Maybe Rav Soloveitchik was relying on the Chida when he permitted teaching Talmud to girls (delivering the first lecture himself)? The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that now that women are more educated in secular studies they need more intensive Jewish education, and that it is mandatory to teach them Oral Torah. But what he meant by that was Ein Yaakov, not the Gemara itself.
Coffee Addict: That’s correct. Health arguments for vegetarians also often lead to veganism (many doctors recommend it, including Neal Barnard). As long as the person takes B-12 supplements and eats a reasonably balanced diet, people can be happy and healty as vegans. But that option is unattractive to most people, so giving up only meat is understandable. Since people tend love these foods so much, it seems more realistic for most people to just lower consumption rather than abstain completely (eating meat just once a week, as recommended by Chazal in Chullin 84a, and dairy and eggs on another, for example).
The main hashkafic danger I can see with vegetarianism or veganism is that the person becomes so sensitive to animal suffering that it is hard to have any connection to the korbanos, or animal-derived mitzvos such as tefillin. I suppose they could believe, as Rav Kook did, that only the non-animal korbanos will be restored, but that doesn’t change the fact that we regularly pray for the korbanos to be restored and list all the animals and such. (Even so, I assume once moshiach comes the animals won’t be in factory farms before they’re sacrificed!)
Another danger is that veganism in particular can be like a religion to some people, including a belief system, different clothing, a community of like-minded people, etc., and this might inspire some people to go OTD.
I hope the person you’re talking about is not your husband, c”v’s. Perhaps when the person asks forgiveness you can say, well, on the condition that you promise not be verbally abusive in the future? It could be an opportunity to talk about the way he/she treats you. Just a thought.
From R’ Sears’ book: “Rabbi Chaim Chizkiyahu Medini (1833-1903), author of Sdei Chemed, cites the example of a well-known Kabbalist-ascetic who would never partake of meat. ‘It is forbidden to disparage such a person, God forbid,’ the Sdei Chemed warns. ‘Fortunate is his lot. He abstained even from wine, except when performing a religious precept.'”
I’m surprised that some posters have no problem with vegetarianism for health or taste reasons but think all other reasons are stupid or liberal or forbidden. Of course, it would be forbidden and against the Torah to be vegetarian because you believe animals have the fundamental right never to be eaten. But there’s nothing wrong with being vegetarian to avoid contributing to the severe violations of tzaar baalei chaim which are very common in this age of factory farming.
If anyone is interested in exploring this topic more, a draft of R’ Dovid Sears book A Vision of Eden is available online for free.
See Sukkah 49b — I think this what you’re looking for.
Also, probably not what you’re looking for, but see ch. 3 of Tomer Devorah by Ramak.
Wolf: Like I said I’m just wondering. I’m OOT so I don’t know how common it is. I’ve done some reading, such as R’ Dovid Sears’ Vision of Eden, on the subject, so I’m generally interested in the topic. I’m also aware that a certain well-known YCT rabbi started a “kosher vegan” organization (co-founded with Matisyahu and Mayim Bialik no less). While I’m not surprised there are some vegans or vegetarians among the LWMO, I wondered how common vegetarianism or veganism was among frummer communities. For those who said they knew some frum vegetarians or vegans, were any vegans? Just wondering! Thanks again!
“Can a King allow anyone else to sit on his throne?”
I was just reading in Orchos Tzaddikim, Gate of Humility, in which the author relates a story of a king who got up among his subjects and fixed a lamp. They asked him why he would do that, because it would seem beneath his dignity, and he replied “I arose a king and returned a king.”
In any event, men are supposed to honor their wives more than themselves, and sitting at the head of a table on a birthday or anniversary seems like a reasonable way to do that.
Hakohen, good point. The crazy thing is that at least half the country opposes gay marriage. So according to Rahm Emmanuel, none of those 100 million people should be able to open a business in Chicago if they are open about their political position on gay marriage. Unbelievable. This wouldn’t have happened if Obama hadn’t come out in favor.
In Israel, the gay marriage debate will never get to this level — no prime minister would ever say you’re not welcome in my city if you’re not in favor of gay marriage, because they know that a large and growing segment of the population has traditional beliefs and is not going to change their minds. In the US, by contrast, gay rights supporters believe that public acceptance of gay marriage is inevitable.
This is a serious argument for aliyah. Orthodox Jews growing up in the US who come in contact with mainstream culture will, at least in some cases, be ashamed of their religion because it doesn’t fit with the nearly-mandatory pro-toevah views, and abandon Orthodoxy in order to not be considered “hateful” and “backward.” This will never be anywhere near as big of a problem in Israel.August 3, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am in reply to: The Torah's View of the Husband / Wife Relationship #894987
For an alternate view to those quoted so far, google Rabbi Aharon Licthenstein and marriage.
According to Wikpedia, Emanuel belongs to a MO congregation in Chicago. It’s strange and unfortunate that his connection with traditional Judaism would not make him more respectful of other positions on gay marriage.
It’s also bizarre that he would try to ban a business from a city because he has the same political opinion that OBAMA HIMSELF had until a few months ago.
Anyway, he should know that according to current First Amendment jurisprudence, it is *definitely* a violation of someone’s constitutional rights to deny them a permit for a business because of that person’s religious or political views.
So the whole gay marriage thing has reached witch-hunt proportions. Maybe this is a message from Hashem that we should be looking into aliyah? It just became a little harder to raise a child to be a proud Torah Jew in the US (now that the inability for gays to marry under Orthodox Judaism will probably be denounced as some kind of crime against humanity).
Sometimes non-Orthodox talisim have the bracha written on them — in that case, I wouldn’t bring them in the bathroom!
Feif Un is correct. In fact, non-Jewish women “married” to Jewish men convert *all the time.* Much of the time the convert is the one who in effect mekarevs the Jewish husband, but it can happen the other way around too. If a man who is making teshuvah is married to a non-Jew, he should teach her about Judaism, include her in the kiruv and other Jewish activities he is involved in, have her read books, etc. Give her some time. There is no need to rush.
If within a few months it is 100% clear that she is hostile to or completely uninterested in becoming a completely observant Jew, then divorce may be needed. But in many cases, the spouse ends up converting, along with the children — which is quite a simple matter if they are under bar/bas mitzvah age and can be enrolled in an Orthodox school. As long as she is committed to remaining an Orthodox Jew even if the marriage ends, then the conversion is kosher.
If I knew someone involved making teshuvah whose kiruv rabbis were telling him to divorce her immediately and that conversion is not an option, I would tell him to run away from them and finish getting mekareved by someone else. Divorcing her immediately, especially if he loves her, is like playing G-d. How do we know Hashem does not want her and the children to convert? Rahab was a prostitute before she converted, but she merited to be the ancestor of prophets.
If he does divorce her, Hashem forbid he should shun his children and never see them again! How disgusting. Popa, can you cite a single psak that a man in this situation should do this? Derech eretz kadmah l’Torah.
Have you and your husband read Garden of Peace and Garden of Peace for Women (by Rav Shalom Arush)? These extraordinary books have helped many people (myself included). Regardless, may Hashem bless you with a happy marriage and family life as soon as possible.
Try listening to Yosef Karduner. I think he has an acappella album, or at least a few acappella songs.
“Someone who wants to develop original Torah insights may expound and innovate as much as he wants according to his level of mental attainment. The only condition is that he may not deduce any new law from insights based on expository interpretation (Drash) or mystical teachings (Sod).” (Sichos Haran #267)
Repharim, I’m sorry you have to go through that. That’s bullying for real. I hope you’re able to find another job. Lots of web designers are self-employed — have you considered that? Or maybe you could take a couple of the other employees with you and start your own design company?
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov once said, “The world labors under the misconception that a tzaddik cannot make a mistake. I say this is not so. A tzaddik can make a mistake. The mistake remains a mistake and the tzaddik remains a tzaddik.”
Rebbe Nachman “also said of certain Chassidic leaders of his day, ‘The tzaddikim are making a mistake by praying after the z’man tefillah.'” (Chayei Moharan 487).
Of course, I’m not saying this describes any people known today as gedolim, but there’s also this…
“There are leaders who go by the name of rabbi but whose learning has been picked up from the
superficialities' andwaste’ of Torah. They are unable to control even themselves, let alone other people. But they still have pretensions to greatness and seek to lead and guide the whole world. You should be very careful to accord them no recognition whatsoever so as not to add in any way to their power or authority. They themselves can be forgiven for what they do: they are no more than the victims of a strong lust for power. It is the people who give them credibility and power and who are prepared to accord them the title of rabbi who will have a heavy penalty to pay.” (Likutei Eitzos).
“We should be doing this ‘seeing the good’ exercise when something we consider to be bad happens to us.”
But the Shulchan Aruch (I think OC 230:5) says one should always be accustomed to saying, “Everything the merciful one does is for the good.” Always. (It doesn’t say “always, except for the 9 days.”) Gamzu l’tovah is equally true during this time, so I think there’s nothing wrong with looking on the bright side even now (provided we’re mourning and decreasing our joy as required, etc.) Believing everything is for the best is a basic facet of emuna and bitachon, in which we are obligated at all times.
Goq, that’s from our Bible, not theirs. See Tehillim 37:11. The Xian writings quote from Tanakh a lot.
Well, if what you mean is, “Do you have to be an arrogant jerk, instead of a kind and pleasant person, in order to 1) find your bashert, 2) make a decent living, and 3) succeed at anything else you care about?”, the answer is no, thank G-d! The Gemara says that when one’s fellow man is pleased with him, so is Hashem. We are supposed to smile at everybody (Pirkei Avos), be extremely humble, and jump at the opportunity to engage in gemilus chasadim. On the other hand, we have to believe in ourselves and be self-assertive when necessary. “A person who wants to provide for those who are dependent upon him must be a person of strength and fortitude, not the opposite. A certain amount of authority and `push’ is required in order to earn money” (Likutei Moharan II, 7:10). In addition, in order to truly come close to Hashem we must “Be bold as a leopard” (Pirkei Avos) and employ a “holy forcefulness and determination” to defeat the “brazen arrogance of the body” and its desires. (Likutei Eitzos, Boldness).
I heard Rav Shlomo Aviner, a major posek of the chardali (charedi-leaning dati luemi) community in Israel, say that one should always wear tzitzis, even when it is hot — even in the army and during combat.
Look at the book The Merit of the Righteous Woman by the Biale Rebbe. You can read much of it for free on books dot google dot com, if you just search for the name of the book. It looks really fascinating.
Every person, male or female, was created to serve Hashem in his or her own particular way, through prayer, Torah study, mitzvos and other ma’asim tovim, and thereby achieve their particular soul correction (tikkun). Women, who are less violent and arrogant and more nurturing and compassionate than men, are created closer to Hashem’s ideal, so they don’t need the time-bound mitzvos and public davening to purify their souls and middos and keep them from sin. Women receive merit from the Torah and mitzvos of their husbands and children, but also from their own. Through childrearing, hospitality and chessed activities women often have more opportunities than men for gemilus chasadism, which is one of the foundations of the world (not to mention one of the mitzvos that has no measure, and which has rewards in this world but the principal reward in the world to come.)
Rav Shalom Arush, in his bestseller Garden of Peace, teaches that men cannot achieve their soul correction in this world without being married, because it is only through the process of achieving true and complete shalom bayis that his middos can be refined and his emunah/bitachon perfected. So that is one reason women were created — men cannot achieve their spiritual purpose without making them happy. 🙂July 11, 2012 4:16 pm at 4:16 pm in reply to: Who Are The Most Liberal Posters in the Coffee room? #888289
Gatesheader, like you I’m pretty far to the left on many issues, though in my case the exception is Israel (I’m also moderate/slightly-conservative on some social issues like gay rights or abortion), on which I see eye to eye with people like British writer Melanie Phillips. I think we need a good military, but the US military is too big and expensive, with useless bases all over the world. I don’t want my country to be an imperial power, forcing or pressuring various countries throughout the world to conform to its ideas and economic interests. That’s the main problem with US-Israel relations — the US acts like an imperial power, trying to force Israel to do what it wants. This leads to bad decisions, like the Gaza withdrawal.
Good suggestion. People sometimes think of the MO as Beis Hillel and charedim as Beis Shammai. Not sure if that make sense, but regardless, in Pirkei Avos, Shammai said “Receive each person with a cheerful countenance.” In other words, if you want to be truly frum then you better smile at everybody! (In Avos Rav Ishmael also says “Receive each person with simcha” — another way of saying the same thing).
I’m an attorney in a relatively low-pressure job, so I have time to check YWN a few times a day. I try not to post very often, though.
I was wondering what the halacha on this issue is. Farm workers are allowed to eat grapes while they’re harvesting, right? So what about office workers who are paid by the hour? Is it an aveira to check the news or weather or comment on a message board now and then? I heard a rabbi say that every unauthorized phone call at work is like stealing, and I saw another rabbi say that if you wasted time at work you should make it up by working unpaid overtime. Gatesheader, since you mentioned your news and weather addiciton, do you have any thoughts?July 8, 2012 3:10 am at 3:10 am in reply to: What do you think about cannabis becoming more and more legal? #989869
While I think cannabis is very bad, much worse than alcohol for the average person (see my comment above), and no one should even try it, I actually think it should be 100% legal. It’s insane and counter-productive to lock up hundreds of thousands of people just because they’re doing something stupid to their minds/bodies. If drug users are acting crazy and hurting people because of an addiction, then either prosecute them for real crimes they commit, or involuntarily commit them to treatment centers in extreme cases.
Another thing to consider: Some people want to use pot because they crave some kind of altered consciousness or experience. Some even want to experience spirituality through it. Don’t count on it. Jews have relied on prayer, meditation, fasting, and a little alcohol for these purposes. That’s all we need. If you’re interested in “expanding your consciousness,” rely on our historical methods, not drugs that can mess up your mind and give you mental health problems.July 6, 2012 7:36 pm at 7:36 pm in reply to: What do you think about cannabis becoming more and more legal? #989865
I just realized my previous comment probably wasn’t approved because it was too long — sorry about that. Here’s the short and sweet version:
Yes, cannabis is bad — very bad.
1) It causes mental health problems, including paranoia, anxiety attacks, and more general anxiety problems. This is extremely common, and experienced by most users at one time or another. Ask any user about paranoia, and they will know what you are talking about.
2) There is very strong statistical evidence that using cannabis increases the risk of schitzophrenia and psychosis. These disorders are caused by an interplay between genetics and environment. For example, when one identical twin has schitzophrenia, the other twin only has about a 50% chance of coming down with it, even though they have all the same genes. So environment matters. And smoking marijuana is one thing that triggers it.
3) Pot can also cause burnout. I have personally known people who after using a lot of weed kind of lose their minds. They don’t make much sense, and don’t have much intelligence anymore. I taught a class last year (most of the class were secular non-Jews), and I asked them if anyone knew someone who was burnt out. Many said they did. It’s very sad.
4) It clouds your mind and lowers your memory and intelligence.
There is a dispute about whether it was part of the ketores. R’ Aryeh Kaplan says yes, but others argue no. I’ve never seen any evidence that any Jews smoked marijuana historically. It has certainly never been used by any great Torah scholars or tzaddikim.July 6, 2012 5:13 pm at 5:13 pm in reply to: What do you think about cannabis becoming more and more legal? #989857
This is a very important question. Yes, marijuana is bad — very bad. There are many reasons.
1) It causes mental health problems. Most commonly, users experience what they call “paranoia” — basically irrational anxiety. Some users have panic attacks, which can last even after you stop smoking pot (and panic attacks are really no fun — you feel like you’re going to die). The thing is, a large proportion of the population has some level of susceptibility to anxiety problems, but many people never develop them. Weed, for some reason, seems to bring it to the surface. Since tranquility of mind is such an important value, both in secular and religious terms, no one should ever use marijuana (unless as a last resort and prescribed by a doctor for a pain condition, but I wouldn’t use it even then.)
2) This may sound surprising, but there is very strong statistical evidence that using cannabis increases the risk of schitzophrenia and psychosis. These disorders are caused by an interplay between genetics and environment. For example, when one identical twin has schitzophrenia, the other twin only has about a 50% chance of coming down with it, even though they have all the same genes. So environment matters. And smoking marijuana is one thing that triggers it. Schitzophrenia is a relatively common but horribly devastating disease. It really ruins people’s lives. Another reason to stay away from marijuana at all costs.
3) Pot can also cause burnout. I have personally known people who after using a lot of weed kind of lose their minds. They don’t make much sense, and don’t have much intelligence anymore. I taught a class last year (most of the class were secular non-Jews), and I asked them if anyone knew someone who was burnt out. Many said they did. It’s very sad.
4) It clouds your mind and lowers your memory and intelligence. I know many pot smokers who stopped, and felt themselves gradually coming out of a fog, their mind becoming clearer and clearer.
5) Pot users tend to hang out with people who do other drugs, which are just as or even more dangerous. I know many people who have messed up their lives and given themselves lifelong anxiety and even vision problems through using psychedelic drugs. Nowadays tons of people take opiate pills and end up on heroin.
There is a dispute about whether it was part of the ketores. R’ Aryeh Kaplan says yes, but others argue no. I’ve never seen any evidence that any Jews smoked marijuana historically. It has certainly never been used by any great Torah scholars or tzaddikim.
Why did Hashem make this plant? Well He didn’t make it with lots of THC in it. The original plant only has a bit. It’s very useful for making fabrics. People bred it to increase the THC. Why did Hashem create THC? Perhaps because it would have some medical use someday. Perhaps also as a nisayon?
Can you overdose? Not technically (as with heroin), but in practice, it happens all the time that people smoke so much they get really out of it and paranoid — a very unpleasant experience that most pot smokers will admit to having experienced. (That said, smoking just a little can trigger anxiety attacks too.) If you ingest it instead of smoking, you can also get way too much THC and feel like you’re going out of your mind. It’s harder to regulate the dose that way, but people eat pot brownies anyway.
Synthetic cannabis is even worse — don’t even think about it. People are jumping out of buildings and killing people and such because it makes them go nuts. If you hear about some drug, synthetic or not, that’s legal, don’t go order it just to see what it’s like — I know people who have suffered greatly from this mistake.
All the examples I’m using are from secular people I’ve known, not frum yidden. In Israel I’ve heard there’s some chassidic BTs who smoke pot, but the rabbis denounce them and I gather they’re an embarrassment.
Some people want to use pot because they crave some kind of altered consciousness or experience. Some even want to experience spirituality through it. Don’t count on it. Jews have relied on prayer, meditation, fasting, and a little alcohol to bring on altered states. That’s all we need. If you’re interested in expanding your consciousness, rely on our historical methods, not drugs that can mess up your mind.
Have you tried learning the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh seforim? You can read them for free online in English. Some people are really getting into them, from all streams of Yiddishkeit. Even if much of it is not directly about davening, it could be helpful for it.
A few ideas:
1) Do you get enough sleep? If you never get enough sleep, it may be hard to be in a good mood while davening shacharis.
2) Do you drink coffee or tea before davening? If not, consider it, because a little caffeine can put you in a good mood.
3) If I recall correctly, Rambam says we should sit and meditate an hour before and after davening! If that’s what we’re really supposed to do, then surely we can manage to spend one or two minutes meditating before davening. Close your ideas, clear your mind and try to concentrate on love and yearning for Hashem. (“To you, Lord, I lift my soul” — Tehillim 25.) Learn more about meditation from kosher sources such as R’ Aryeh Kaplan or R’ Dovber Pinson. Meditation can be extremely enjoyable, so making your davening like a meditation should help.
4) Spend a minute or two, or even just a few seconds, of personal prayer in your own words before davening, or in the middle of davening, between sections. Ask Hashem to open your heart and allow yourself to pray with true kavanah and devotion. If you don’t have time during davening, pray at some other time during the day for a few minutes, asking Hashem to let you serve him with joy. Check out the Chofetz Chaim’s quote on hisbodedus (search using the term hitbodedut on google to find it easily online), or the sections on tefilah and hisbodedus in Likutei Eitzot.
5) Do you daven with a fast minyan? Maybe you could find a slower one?
6) Start on the section of davening you identify with the most, and try to do that with as much feeling and kavanah as you can. Then expand that slowly to other parts of the service.
7) Spend a few minutes before davening thanking Hashem for all the good things you have and that have happened to you (and even for the seemingly bad). There’s tons of empirical evidence from psychological studies that gratitude makes you feel happy!
If you ask the staff to allow you to move, they hardly ever will. But if you ask fellow passengers to move or trade seats with you, they almost always will! I’ve had to ask strangers to trade all the time to make sure my wife and kids and I are all sitting together on the plane, and I’ve never had any problems.
Sorry to hear about the financial difficulties and worries! I recommend reading the sefer Garden of Riches by Rav Shalom Arush. He has helped a lot of people with their financial problems with his teachings. All of his books are inexpensive, easy and fast to read, and (to me at least) very helpful.
Great thread. A few thoughts:
1) One can insert individual prayers in one’s own language in any of the 13 middle brachos of the Amidah, not just in shema koleinu. Since es tzemach dovid and other brachos relate to the geulah this seems like a good time to insert personal prayers (especially if you have difficulty having kavanah during these brachos).
2) Smiling at everyone is a great suggestion! Two different sages (R’ Shammai and R’ Yishmael) say the same thing in Pirkei Avos — it’s about time we listened to them.
3) I like the story about the BT who said shehakol so slowly. Another method is to say a couple sentences of personal prayer before each bracha, asking to have kavanah and thanking Hashem for what you’re about to eat, etc. — I think this helps a lot. I’ve read about tzaddikim who did this.
4) We should (literally?) jump at every opportunity to do an act of chesed for somone, whether it’s our spouse or a stranger. It’s written somewhere that if we are kind to others Hashem will be kind to us (and what could be more kind than the Geulah…)
5) We are supposed to yearn for the Geulah and pray for it (at least in the Amidah). If we’re worried about it seeming selfish and focused on a reward instead of just serving Hashem, then think about how the Geulah will be good for everyone in the whole world. Think about all the suffering in the world world, and let’s pray to Hashem to bring the Geulah to end that suffering.