Our mission in This World is to strive for Truth.
This means living according to Truth (and not just conducting intellectually stimulating discussions or theses on the mere idea of Truth).
In light of this, Rav Itamar Schwartz presents probing questions each person should ask him/herself.
Many of you have already answered at least some of these positively. You've already made certain powerful changes for the sake of Truth. (It's clear from your decisions & actions & yearnings.)
But it's rare that a person has already pondered all these questions.
It's rare that a person has already made all the changes necessary to fulfill the answers to these questions.
So here's an opportunity to do so if you haven't already.
Needless to say, I need to grapple with these questions just as much anyone else. We're in this together—at different levels and stages, but still together.
Note: Please note these questions form around the idea that you actually KNOW of a more truthful place, community, interpretation, etc. and NOT just that someone merely suggested their own "truth" according to their own subjective opinion...or that you kinda-sorta-maybe "think" so, or that you vaguely heard something was considered more truthful, or that you're still trying to figure it out (which is perfectly legit; how else can you know unless you think about it first?)...the questions are: "What if you KNOW"...what if you are in COMPLETE AGREEMENT with them"—what would you do then?
Here are the 4 questions:
1) If you are told a certain interpretation in Torah that is more truthful than your current understanding, would you admit to it and say that the other way of understanding is truer than yours?
To see the questions within the original transcript AND to hear the class in the original Hebrew, please go here:
In Parshat Mishpatim this week, we encounter a famous verse:
“A machshefah shall not live.”
Machshefah (often translated as "sorceress" or "witch") comes from the word kishuf (pronounced kee-shoof, it includes methods utilizing what we call magic, sorcery, witchcraft, divination, occultism—whether real or faked).
Intensely derided by the feminist movement today, this verse contains a lot of wisdom that used to be more obvious, but today has been muddled by modern attitudes.
And, as Rashi clearly states, though the term used is feminine, this verse applies EQUALLY to men.
So all the exhortations knocking this verse as a demonization of women are bunk.
And no...Jews are NOT responsible for the way many Catholic priests or other gospel-believers interpreted and responded to this verse over the centuries.
If any of them wanted to understand what it really meant and how God really wanted them to behave, they could easily have asked one of the tremendous Sages around in their time.
(They had no problem accessing Torah Sages when they wanted to.)
So their attitude was neither the fault of the Torah nor Am Yisrael.
(Yet another reason why it's irresponsible to listen to random people who speak against any part of the Torah, especially when they lack any knowledge of the millennia of consistent interpretation—and particularly when these soapboxers hold little to no knowledge of the text in its original Hebrew language.)
For a 3-part series on the topic (including strange & illuminating stories), start here:
To read a halachic discussion of the prohibition's modern application, please click on the following:
"Just as it is impossible to have grain without straw & wood without smoke,
so too there is no man who does not make a mistake."
— Rav Eliezer Papo
When I recently felt repelled from connecting to the Internet (or even going near my computer), I kept thinking I should make some small announcement on the blog so readers would understand why days go by without a new post.
But I couldn't because I felt so repelled from doing so!
Over time I felt less repelled, and managed to force myself to compose an explanatory post...which I think made it seem like I was going offline permanently:
But that was followed by more regularly appearing posts (although short, mostly copied & pasted, or explanations about why people should view a certain link, etc.—in other words, not the kind of posts characteristic of this blog, but still posts one after the other).
So it seems inconsistent.
And it is!
But the logic behind it all is that I really did feel that way at the time.
I really felt like I couldn't write, couldn't post, didn't want to read online, and even email presented a challenge to some degree, etc.
And now, I feel up to writing more.
But baruch Hashem, that feeling of healthy disconnection still exists, albeit not to the degree it did before.
At the same time, I understand there are different situations, people with different needs that can only or mostly be fulfilled online.
What I'm doing right now isn't what everyone should be doing right now.
And believe me, I understand the Internet's pull even when one's actual needs do not demand the Internet.
But what I'm doing now (or at least trying to do) definitely suits this stage in my personal journey.
I need to be honest with myself about what my real needs are as I progress with disconnecting (in addition to working on a whole host of other stuff in myself).
For example, I recently turned off all access to videos (except Torah Anytime). Yes, even the best Torah classes of YouTube...even the wonderful enjoyment of watching the Lubavitcher Rebbe interact with a variety of people & also Rav Avigdor Miller's lectures!
But I decided that according to my very personal calculations for my own unique needs at this particular time, there's an overall benefit to NO access to ANY YouTube, JewTube, WeTube, Vimeo, videos available on pseudo-kosher "frum" news sites, etc...even if the video features divrei Torah from a supreme talmid chacham.
And this transition feels surprisingly good. (I thought it would be more angsty.)
It's a tradeoff.
And I know I'm not being consistent about things...which is actually pretty normal for inner growth and transitioning.
When trying out a new hashkafah or behavior, it's normal to flounder around until you get the knack of it.
Sure, it's a bit frustrating or confusing for both the flounderer and for people who get "splashed" by the flounderer,
Growth is good & leads to wonderful things, but it's also discombobulating.
Both aspects are true.
And people in transition can accidently bump into each other, step on toes unintentionally, and so on.
This is where understanding, forgiveness, patience, and a sense of humor come in to play...on the part of the flounderer and others in contact with the flounderer (who doesn't mean to flounder, but is trying the darndest to keep one's head above water while figuring out how to swim properly...and also avoid sharks, jellyfish, and prankers who think it's so cute, clever, and funny to sneak under you & yank you down by the ankle so you think you're drowning).
(BTW, please note the emphasis on behavior resulting from TRANSITION—and NOT people who bumble around with their bad middos saying "Oh, well, just gotta work on those middos...someday...in some way..." That's just poor middos & people who aren't even trying. I'm talking about people who have a plan & a goal, but due to unfamiliarity with a new stage in personal growth, they bumble around until they get it right. And such people DO eventually get it right because they are honestly trying.)
When you actually work on yourself for real—not just going through the motions, but REALLY going through the grind—you tend to have more patience & understanding for others genuinely trying to work on themselves. So that's a huge plus from going through your own transition phases.
Empathy is one of the most important traits to cultivate—and genuine middot work definitely cultivates empathy.
Anyway...I still have posts mostly written that continue to languish on the side unfinished...
So I think where I'm holding now is there'll be spurts of smaller posts, or a big long post somewhere, and also lags of no posts.
I don't mean for it to be like that, but it's the result of trying to sort myself out (in addition to life-changes occurring outside myself).
And I apologize for any inconsistencies or annoyances.
Parallels between the Generation of Dispersal & the Tower of Babel (Dor HaFlagah & Migdal Bavel): Link to a Fascinating Class, Plus Some Brief Explanation Here
Ever since discovering (via Rav Itamar Schwartz) the reincarnation of the 3 Awful Ancient Generations in our times, so much of the craziness makes sense:
Apparently, the Generations of the Flood, Dispersion (Tower of Bavel), and Sodom currently exit within the souls of both Jews and non-Jews in our time.
This is in addition to the Erev Rav souls plaguing us.
And just as with the Erev Rav souls, the percentage of soul comprised by the above Generations differs from person to person.
Just like a Jewish soul may possess only a spark of Erev Rav, a Jewish or non-Jewish soul may only possess a spark of the Generation of the Flood, the Dispersion, or Sodom.
And when we're talking about sparks, this means that a person can elevate those dysfunctional sparks via working on character traits, emunah, and bitachon—thereby eliminating these sparks and purifying the soul.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that just like some Jewish souls aren't actually so Jewish and instead comprise mostly or all Erev Rav components...likewise, Jewish and non-Jewish souls can also comprise mostly or completely souls of the 3 Awful Ancient Generations.
This is why we're seeing modern versions of attitudes found in those 3 Awful Ancient Generations.
Recently, I discovered a shiur (just under 38 minutes) by a rabbi with whom I'm not familiar, Rabbi Yonoson Roodyn:
Migdal Bavel - The Most Mysterious Building Ever Built
He describes the Generation of Dispersion (the Dor HaFlagah of Tower of Babel infamy) and the striking parallels to our time.
He also notes the difference in the all-encompassing emphasis between the first 2 Generations:
This explains why today's world features both an obsession with me, me, me...AND an obsession with homogenizing society via technology, media, combined with moving toward a socialist-communist structure.
We see the tug-of-war between these conflicting emphases in real-time.
Via this shiur, you'll see how truly NOTHING NEW lies under the sun.
Once you see the parallels, it makes things so much clearer and this clarity provides a path to develop the right attitude & values.
Meaning, instead of buying into to all the peer pressure and media propaganda to embrace values presented as "compassionate" or "liberating" or "open-minded" or "progressive" or "just," you'll see how a lot of that is simply the power-greedy communist Dor HaFlagah up to their old tricks 3786 years later.
(The Tower of Bavel fiasco occurred in the year 1996 from Creation/1764 BCE.)
I believe this knowledge can help us remain independent thinkers who cling more tightly to Torah hashkafah, rather than getting swept into all the feel-good brainwashing which actually derives from the newly arisen sparks of the 3 Awful Generations.
Please also remember Chazal already stated that these Generations have no portion in the World to Come.
They've returned now. But they hold no future in any world.
So if we follow them, chas v'shalom...where will we end up?
For more on this topic, please see:
The Invasion of 3 Ancient Generations://www.myrtlerising.com/blog/july-07th-2020
(Throughout that post, more links are available to understand even more.)
With both global events & events within our communities (plus very personal events), we probably all feel the rope of emunah shaking very hard by now.
(Unfamiliar with the "shaking rope of emunah"? Then please click here: www.myrtlerising.com/blog/recognizing-the-spastic-rope-of-emunah.)
It's amazing how in just under 4 minutes, Rabbi Daniel Travis explains what's going on here:
Thanking Hashem When Things Look Bad #1063-Exposing Scandals Before Moshiach Pt1
Basically, the Zohar predicts how before Mashiach, the Erev Rav will make the Torah SEEM putrid.
It's not, of course.
The Torah is the clearest, purest, most beautiful part of the Universe.
But the Erev Rav will behave in a way that repels the world AWAY from the Torah.
It's sort of like throwing sewage all over the Hope diamond. You might think the large lump in the middle of the sewage is a particularly large and nasty chunk of manure.
But no...it's the Hope diamond.
No matter how much sewage anyone dumps on it, it remains just as prized & valuable as ever.
Sewage cannot do more than cover the Hope diamond. Sewage cannot actually harm or change the Hope diamond in any way.
Don't let yourself get confused by the vast amounts of revolting sewage dumped all over by the Erev Rav!
Don't be fooled! It's all a cover-up. A particularly flabbergasting and repulsive cover-up to be sure, but only a cover-up nonetheless.
The real diamond is still there...just as precious, unique, and unchanged as ever.
Happy Tu B'Shvat!
The Ultimate Path to Geula
As Long as You Fight, You Win (Even If It Looks Like You've Lost)
Here is another powerful excerpt from Bitachon Weekly, page 3.
(I've no connection to it, but you can sign up for Bitachon Weekly here: email@example.com.)
The “one out of five” Yidden who left Mitzrayim were the Avdei Hashem, who struggled and fought against their Yetzer Hara.
So we see the one-fifth who merited to leave Mitzrayim were NOT pure tzaddikim on the inside.
They felt pulled toward the forbidden.
But they STRUGGLED against that pull.
They had the same yetzer hara as anyone else...but they fought against it.
And that made all the difference.
Why Faith in the Ultimate Geula Makes All the Difference
I recently heard a shiur on how the minority that merited to leave Mitzrayim earned that merit:
Parashat Bo: The Holocaust Survivor's Confession
(Starting around minute 2:50.)
After all, some very bad people left with them too.
Datan, Aviram, etc.
What made the difference?
After all, Chazal calls the people left in Mitzrayim "reshaim."
But some of the people who merited to leave Mitzrayim were also reshaim!
What enabled these sinful people to leave while other sinful people died in the Plague of Darkness?
According to the Rosh:
Even though they were reshaim, they didn't despair of the Geula.
That made all the difference.
They never lost hope for the Geula.
Is there a contradiction between this idea and the one above?
A little bit.
But please remember the big yetzer hara is despair. Hopelessness. Giving up. "It's never going to happen."
Most of the Jews who left Mitzrayim fought against all their yetzer haras: despair, taava, ka'as, etc.
But even the ones who ONLY fought against their yetzer hara of despair merited redemption from Mitzrayim.
Emunah is a powerful thing.
You don't have to be perfect.
You can just KNOW the Redemption really IS coming.
Some wonderful chizuk from Bitachon Weekly Beshalach 5782, page 3 (boldface mine).
TAKE IT TO HEART!
If you are one of those who has “problems” [e.g. with Ka’as (anger), Ta’ava (physical & material desires), not learning and davening as well as you should, with difficulties in Bitachon or relationships], as long as you are a fighter, you are a great person and from the “Chamushim” warriors who deserve to leave Mitzrayim.
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I'm a middle-aged housewife and mother in Eretz Yisrael who likes to read and write a lot.
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