Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wings of Spirit

If you desire, human being, look at the light of God’s Presence in everything.
   Look at the Eden of spiritual life, at how it blazes into each corner and crevice of life, spiritual and of this world, right before your eyes of flesh and your eyes of soul....
    Gaze at the wonders of creation, at their divine life—not like some dim phenomenon that is placed before your eyes from afar.
    But know the reality in which you live.
    Know yourself and your world.
    Know the thoughts of your heart, and of all who speak and think. 
    Find the source of life inside you, higher than you, around you. [Find] the beautiful ones alive in this generation in whose midst you are immersed.
    The love within you: lift it up to its mighty root, to its beauty of Eden.
    Send it spreading out to the entire flood of the soul of the Life of worlds, Whose light is reduced only by incapable human expression.
    Gaze at the lights, at what they contain.
    Do not let the Names, phrases and letters swallow up your soul.
    They have been given over to you.
    You have not been given over to them.

    Rise up.
    Rise up, for you have the power.
    You have wings of the spirit, wings of powerful eagles.
    Do not deny them, or they will deny you.
    Seek them, and you will find them instantly.
            Orot Hakodesh I, pp. 83-84

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Repost: Yearning (2010)

I honor of Tu b'Shvat, I'm reposting this story I heard from Rav Moshe Weinberger way back when the Orot HaTorah shiur from Rav Kook was just beginning. It's apropos for the occasion, especially because Rav Weinberger mentioned the story in his massive gathering last week in the Holy Land with several hundred folks who are looking for some fire in the cold, cold winter...

Sponsorship opportunity for Breslov works by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

Today is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan OBM. Reb Aryeh's many writings had a profound influence on my life, especially during some of the darker periods of my adolescent years. Both his original works as well as his adaptations and translation helped me see that there is a Judaism that is full of joy and depth, a Judaism that is not necessarily readily apparent.

I received this message in my inbox today:

The Breslov community is particularly indebted to Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's translation of "Rebbe Nachman's Wisdom" was first published in 1973 on the initiative of Rabbi Zvi Aryeh Rosenfeld, who was the leading English-speaking Breslover teacher in the United States. It was a pioneering work, being the first reliable translation into English of any of Rebbe Nachman's writings. It required not only a profound understanding of the subject matter itself, but also a unique approach in giving expression to such lofty ideals in a manner which would be both accurate and at the same time accessible to the general reader. This was Rabbi Kaplan's first ever book and he would go on to thank Rebbe Nachman for showing him that he was a gifted and capable writer.It was the publication of Rebbe Nachman's Wisdom that opened the way for the translation of other Breslover works. Subsequently the Breslov Research Institute was founded to undertake the translation and publication of Rebbe Nachman's writings. Reb Chaim Kramer spoke with Rabbi Kaplan about starting the work on several projects, the first was "Outpouring of the Soul," the second was "Rabbi Nachman's Stories." The idea then was to translate and publish the ten major works of the Rebbe, excluding the Likutey Moharan which was considered too difficult to bring down to a layman's level. So they began.Rabbi Nachman's Stories was released in January 1983. Sadly, Rabbi Kaplan passed away right around then, he left over a manuscript of the Rebbe's life which he gave to the Breslov Research Institute and it was named, "Until The Mashiach", published in 1984.Rabbi Kaplan's writes in the preface of  his first book, "Spending these months immersed in Rebbe Nachman's works has been a source of inspiration that was, as Reb Noson would say, “beyond the power of words to describe.” It is my hope that they serve as a similar source of inspiration to those who read this book."May the many he inspired bring his holy soul much merit for all eternity, Amen.

In honor of Rabbi Kaplan's memory, we would like to publish an updated edition of Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom which has been newly edited and typeset and will include updated cover art. If you are interested in sponsoring this project in honor of him and others, please contact us. The cost is $5,000.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Where you feel it...

Found on a Tumblr blog:

The advent of technology in general and advances in imaging techniques specifically are continuing to give us insight into the wonderful Olam katan that HaShem has provided us. While some turn their sights outward into the fr reaches of outer space, there is so much more to be learned about our "inner space"!

One of my favorite areas of research are the brain studies utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to demonstrate which areas of the brain are activated during different occurrences. 

At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, all these technological/scientific advances only reinforce my belief and recognition of the Infinite wisdom that put this all together.

Mah rabu ma'asecha HaShem; me'od amku machshevosecha...

Friday, January 3, 2014

Not a Spectator Sport

At some point in the 1950s, when the Lubavitcher Rebbe had only been in the United States for a short period of time, a  distraught couple brought their son in to see the Rebbe. The son was struggling in his limmudim (studies) and this was a source of great concern for the parents, as they couldn't seem to motivate their him.

The Rebbe spoke to them for a while, trying to encourage them, both the parents and child as well. Throughout he meeting, the son (Yankel, for the story's sake) seemed detached, disinterested. As they were leaving the Rebbe's study, the Rebbe called out after the teen: "Yankel, do you like baseball?"

Yankel perked up at this, responding in the affirmative, telling the Rebbe that baseball was one of his loves. The Rebbe went on, asking Yankel who his favorite team was.  The Brooklyn Dodgers. What about Yankel's father? Did he like baseball? Yankel replied that his father didn't care much for baseball. Had Yankel ever been to a game?

Yankel nodded; his father had taken him only a few weeks ago to a Dodgers game. The Rebbe asked him if it had been a good experience. 

Thinking about it, Yankel answered "Well, no Rebbe, it wasn't."

"Why not?" The Rebbe asked.

"Because the Dodgers lost."

"How do you know that they lost?" The Rebbe asked.

"Everyone knows they lost!"

The Rebbe persisted. "But how do you know they lost? Did you see them lose?"

", actually. We left early before the end of the game. I was so disappointed I just couldn't take it anymore, so we left."

 The Rebbe leaned forward. "But how could you leave early? Aren't you in the middle of the game?"

"Rebbe," the boy explained, "in baseball, there are two types of people. There are the players, and the spectators. The players have no choice, they're stuck until the end of the game. But the spectators? We can come and go as we please, whenever we want."

The Rebbe looked into the boy's eyes. "In life, there are two types of people, the players and the spectators. You have to choose how you see yourself: are you a player or a spectator?"