Monday, January 11, 2010

PLEASE READ IN ORDER TO CONTINUE RECEIVING "LET MY PEOPLE KNOW"


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Sunday, January 10, 2010

PLEASE READ IN ORDER TO CONTINUE RECEIVING "LET MY PEOPLE KNOW"


Hello,

I just transferred the "Let My People Know" blog over to a new, more efficient server. As a result of this transfer, you need to re-subscribe to "Let My People Know" in order to continue receiving your daily teaching from the words of Rabbi Steinsaltz.

IT'S 3 EASY STEPS!

1) In order to re-subscribe, just go to http://arthurkurzweil.com/let-my-people-know/ .

2) In the top right hand corner enter your email address.

3) Important: Check your email for a "subscription confirmation" notice and click on the link inside the email.

That's it! Your subscription will be confirmed and you will continue receiving Rabbi Steinsaltz's illuminating teachings.

IMPORTANT: Don't forget to check your email and click on the confirmation link, or you will not have completed the subscription process!

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"We are unintentionally, but continuously, brainwashed into thinking that the spiritual is not very real"

"Our assumption that existence is primarily physical, and that reality is that which is tangible, is not self-evi­dent, natural, or inborn.

This sort of thinking (a spiritual phenomenon in itself) is based on cultural maxims that are taught to us.

From a very young age, we are taught that dreams, ideas, and thoughts are not real, and that what we say, think, and dream do not count.

In turn, we transmit to our children—not always in words—the notion that 'reality' is that which can be seen and touched.

Our children get the message continuously, in both subtle and not so subtle ways: 'If it does not exist in matter, it does not matter.'

In our culture, if a small child breaks a cup, we scold him.

If he cuts his finger, we are worried.

But if a child speaks of his dreams and imaginations, we dismiss them as unimportant, and even more—as unreal.

In this way, we are unintentionally, but continuously, brainwashed into thinking that the spiritual is not very real, and therefore we discount it in many ways.

This edu­cation has many evolutionary advantages, mostly to cats, cattle, or apes, who have to rely on their senses and not on their thoughts (if they have any).

Whether it is helpful in the long run for human beings is quite doubtful.

When we ignore or discount the intangible, we are misleading our­selves.

If spirituality were only pondering about angels, we could ignore it, claiming that angels are of no interest to us.

As things are, we cannot ignore or rid ourselves of the spiritual aspect of our life, so long as we are conscious."

--Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz


From
Simple Words by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

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Friday, January 8, 2010

"The mitzvot have no purpose, material or spiritual, beyond the single aim of attachment to God"


"The practical mitzvot are not a device for attaining spirituality, love of God, and other spiritual aims.

In fact, the mitzvot have no purpose, material or spiritual, beyond the single aim of attachment to God.

And God is neither material nor spiritual but equally distant from both matter and spirit.

The question of whether a person believes in God or denies Him is not of any greater 'concern' to God than whether a person smokes on Shabbat.

Furthermore, as far as genuine attachment to God is concerned, it is the body that holds the greater potential for such attachment, because, among other things, the vast majority of the mitzvot are phys­ical deeds.

The prevalent assumption that the spiritual is better suited to achieve attachment to God stems from the failure to distinguish between attachment and a feeling of attachment.

The two are not syn­onymous; indeed, they can be far apart and at times even opposites.

Attachment is an objective truth: a person is one with God, and it makes no difference whether the person experiences an uplifting of the spirit at that time or not.

If the criterion is how one feels, if one's feelings determine what is good and what is bad, what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong, then this is not attachment to God but attachment to oneself!"

--Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz


From Opening the Tanya by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Joy is not an express mitzvah but is the greatest of mitzvot"


"A cardinal principal in the service of God is that it must be done with joy.

It is said in the name of many Hasidic masters that there is something that is not listed in the Torah as a sin yet is worse than any sin and something that is technically not a mitzvah yet is greater than all mitzvot.

Nowhere does the Torah expressly forbid sadness and depression, yet this is the most virulent of sins, for it stifles the heart and mind, closing them to the service of God.

Joy is not an express mitzvah but is the greatest of mitzvot, for it opens a person's heart and mind, enabling him to perform all the mitzvot and to make a mitzvah of everything."

--Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz


From
Opening the Tanya by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"The joys of Paradise are endless and everlasting"


"Just as the awareness of wrong becomes increasingly deep in Hell, the understanding and enjoyment of good grow constantly stronger in
Paradise.

Unlike Hell, which is a limited, finite stage, because it has to correct and amend what happened in a finite span of life, the joys of Paradise are endless and everlasting.

To use a physical metaphor, the absolute zero of temperature is defined and closed.

But there is no upper limit to higher and higher temperatures.

The freed, cleansed soul is now able to have a touch of Godhead, which is the absolute infinity that contains the wholeness of everything.

While being connected and confined by the body and by the shadows of the world, the soul can hardly grasp it.

But in another stage of existence, when these boundaries are no longer there, the soul can keep ascending for eternity."

--Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz


From
Simple Words by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"The performance of a commandment completes the wheel of creation"


"Although the patriarchs intuitively observed the entire Torah even before it was given, once it has been given, we must follow its directives rather than our intuitions, because the Torah has become the pattern of the rectified world.

It is the key, the map, in which reality appears as it should be, in which God Himself appears, without the constriction and the distortion of the created world.

As a rough analogy, a lock is built in such a pattern.

It contains a row of teeth that are out of alignment, that are purposely 'distorted,' as it were.

The key that opens the lock has a configuration that fits with teeth in the lock, making it possible to open the lock.

To a person who does not have the key, the door remains closed.

To a person who does have the key, the door is open.

The existence of this world is closed, and we cannot see the divine beyond it.

There is no direct connection between one level and the next leading directly to God.

But the commandments create a direct link between the created and its Creator, with a direct connection to the highest point, with no distortion.

In this sense, the performance of a commandment completes the wheel of creation."

--Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz



From
Learning from the Tanya by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

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Monday, January 4, 2010

"Our world may be said to be filled with noise"


"A person involved in Torah and mitzvot in a sense organizes the world, transforming the chaotic universe into order.

By way of illustration, when randomly scattered metal filings are magnetized, they take on a specific, meaningful arrangement.

Our world may be said to be filled with noise.

A person involved in Torah and mitzvot collects snippets of information from that uproar and combines them so that he receives meaningful communication from God.

Thus, this noise, which normally doesn't allow us to hear anything, is given shape and transformed into an instrument that transfers meaning."

--Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz


From
Understanding the Tanya by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

"The Jewish attitude is that life in all its aspects, in its totality, must somehow or other be bound up with holiness"


"Seen as separate and unrelated command­ments, each as an individual obligation and burden, the mitzvot seem to be a vast and even an absurd assortment of petty details which are, if not downright intimidating, then at least troublesome.

What we call details, however, are only parts of greater units which in turn combine in various ways into a single entity.

It is as though in exam ining the leaves and flowers of a tree, one were to be overwhelmed by the abundance, the variety, and the complexity of detail.

But when one realizes that it is all part of the same single growth, all part of the same branching out into manifold forms of the one tree, then the details would cease to be dis turbing and would be accepted as intrinsic to the wondrousness of the whole.

A basic idea underlying Jewish life is that there are no special frameworks for holiness.

A man's relation to God is not set apart on a higher plane, not relegated to some special corner of time and place with all the rest of life taking place some where else.

The Jewish attitude is that life in all its aspects, in its totality, must somehow or other be bound up with holiness."
--Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz



From
The Thirteen Petalled Rose by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

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Friday, January 1, 2010

"We have to get rid of our preconceived and learned structures and images, which blur our real belief"


"Belief in God can be na├»ve and childish, or sophisticat­ed and elaborate.

The images we have of God may be non­sensical, or well constructed philosophically.

Yet the essence of this belief, when stripped of verbiage and frills, is simply: existence makes some sense.

Sometimes, one may think—probably mistakenly—that one knows exactly what that sense is, while others may just ponder it.

In any case, there is a firm belief—which precedes any kind of thought, rational and irrational—that there is some sense in things.

What we experience, through our senses or in­wardly are only disjointed pieces.

The fact that we some­how connect these particles of information stems from our a priori faith that there is a connection—because it precedes reason.

Accepting this assumption is the first, most funda­mental 'leap of faith'; not an experience, but a belief.

Of course, people would not call this 'religious belief,' nor see it as a point of faith.

Nevertheless, when analyzed properly, it becomes—for those people who are afraid of the word—frightfully close to believing in God.

This be­lief is like our belief in the existence of the world: it is the foundation of our relation to everything; indeed, on some levels, it is perhaps even more fundamental.

This deep, native belief can be found when we 'undo' our childhood training and eliminate everything we were taught about belief as children.

Then we must answer the question 'What is God?' not on a philosophical level that claims objective definitions, but as an attempt at least to under­stand 'What is God for me?'

To do this, we have to get rid of our preconceived and learned structures and im­ages, which blur our real belief. We must delve very deeply into ourselves, into our most primal thinking, indeed—to begin at the beginning."

--Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz


From
Simple Words by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

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