Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Make Your Life a Sanctuary for G-d.”In short, everything we do in life should be great, but not for our greatness. Everything that we do should be done with passion and determination, but not for our sakes. We are only here by the loving grace of G-d and for as long as He wills it. In our time here, we need to act in a way that means something beyond our finite, selfish mortal selves and instead be selfless for the purpose of our Creator.
If you lived your life for G-d, for good, and for a greater purpose, then your inner spiritual legacy will live on beyond your years and even your name. If you build a sanctuary for G-d, it will have holiness and permanence not only in this world but, more importantly, in the next.
While we ourselves can do positive things to learn and grow as individuals, it’s a bigger and greater mitzvah when it’s shared with others! Just like Joseph, who rose above being a slave and prisoner to save the world, we can all rise above ourselves and our life predicaments to do good that spreads far and wide, perhaps even beyond our wildest imagination.
Ultimately, the litmus test is whether there is a human in that being. If there is that spark of G-d, that soul, that inner conscience weighing right and wrong, that fear and love of G-d and his creations driving decision-making, then there is still hope for that person as well as for mankind.
However, if we are dealing with those who are sadistic animals in human form, then we must be as soldiers of Hashem, taking a firm stand and decisive action, because true evil does not remain dormant for long.
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Can Love Be Blind?”As long as in this material world, the body hides the soul of the person, then love can never be fully blind because people cannot see the true brightness of the soul inside or realize the primacy of people’s spiritual inner selves without getting distracted by the physical aspects of the person, including attraction (which as we all know fades over time) and, of course, class, race, and ethnicity. Yes, physical/chemical attraction is an important part of intimate relationships, but at the end of the day, it’s what’s inside that counts, not only in this world, but for our eternal being and purpose.
In terms of seeing the world and life clearly, you have a choice of how to live. You can choose to endlessly chase meaningless material things and the next physical high, or you can live your life with a deeper understanding that this world is just a corridor to the future world, where the “breath of life” from G-d returns to Him for everlasting revelation and reckoning.
Whereas normally the soul guides and directs the body, in the case of mental illness, the soul becomes imprisoned in the body and mind that is sick. When this happens, a person reverts to their wholly animalistic nature, and hence, what we are seeing is like a car without a driver, accelerating and careening dangerously until, usually, a horrible accident and end.
Circumcision reminds me of Abraham, our forefather, who was tested and told to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac, to G-d. It is truly counter-intuitive for a parent to hurt or sacrifice their child. Yet, this is exactly how G-d tested Abraham before the angel of G-d told him not to raise his hand to Isaac, and instead Abraham then offered to G-d a ram that was caught in the thicket. However, when it comes to circumcision, we are also tested and actually are commanded to surgically remove the male child’s foreskin and as the baby cries out, every parent, no matter how faithful and religiously devoted, winces and feels deeply inside for their child’s pain, even if it is only momentary and soothed by a sip of kosher Kedem Concord Grape wine.
The rite of the circumcision is an incredible transcendental religious experience, where our very faith is tested and we go against our own physical instincts to protect the child, no matter what, and instead we submit ourselves to G-d Almighty, the Master of the Universe to perform the circumcision, because He told us to. Whether there are medical benefits or not, G-d commands, and we obey. We are His people, and his thoughts and plans are infinitely greater than ours. At the circumcision, in an act of complete faith, we graciously give over our male children and ourselves—in body, mind, and soul to G-d. We renounce our desires, our gratification, our very instincts, and put ourselves in G-d’s merciful hands. In that moment of selfless giving, we fulfill our covenant of generations with G-d and we affirm our holiness as individuals and as a nation.
In short, I think it’s healthy for us as human beings to ask questions, even the most difficult questions of why. We need to make sense of our world and the context in which we live. Questions like: Why do good people at times experience horrible loss and suffering? Why do atheists and sinners often seem to excel and succeed (my wife says, perhaps they sold their soul to the devil!)?
While asking why to search for G-d and try to understand His ways is human, at the same time, we as mere mortal human beings can not ever fully know G-d’s ways or His plan for us. In short, Mendel, the Chabad rabbi, said today, don’t get fixated on the why. Instead focus on what you can do to make the world better. Actions speak louder than words.