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Ask the Aish Rabbi a Question

Recent Questions:

Taking Codes Seriously

I am impressed by the Torah Codes, but one thing I cannot understand: If they are so amazing and true, why doesn't the whole world take them more seriously? Why aren't people dropping everything and running off to Jerusalem to study in yeshiva?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Your question is very logical. But unfortunately most people make decisions based on emotion, not logic. (Any salesman will confirm this.)

Human beings tend to get into a lifestyle mode, where changes are uncomfortable. So we employ a wide variety of rationalizations to convince ourselves why the proposed change is really not worthwhile.

I imagine this is why some people stay in abusive relationships, or continue to work at dissatisfying jobs.

Another reason why some people may not be “open” to hearing the truth of Torah Codes is because science has given us a very satisfactory feeling of being able to understand and control our world. Acknowledging the existence of a Creator demands an investigation of what that Creator wants from us. This has vast implications – such as acknowledging absolute standards of behavior, accepting ultimate responsibility, humbling oneself before an Infinite Being, etc.

We say in the Aleynu prayer, that "You shall KNOW this day, and understand it well in your HEART, that the Almighty is God, in Heaven above and Earth below, there is none other" (Deut. 4:39). This tells us that it is not enough to simply know God in your head, you must also understand it in your heart.

Here's hoping that we all can get our head to speak to our heart, and live with what we intellectually know to be true.

Walkway to the Mount

From your Western Wall camera (http://www.aish.com/w/) I notice what appears to be a large covered walkway leading up the Temple Mount. Can you explain what that is?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

To the right of the prayer area is a path going uphill, leading to a doorway that opens onto the Temple Mount itself. This is called the Mughrabim Gate, a main entrance for tourists to visit the Temple Mount.

The original pathway was damaged in an earthquake in 2004, and a temporary wooden walkway has been installed just to the left of the hill.

Archeological excavations are currently being conducted to remove the mound of dirt. This has uncovered an 8-meter-high gate leading into the Temple Mount which dates from the period of the Second Temple. It is known as Barclay's Gate, after the 19th-century American consul who first identified it.

The entire area that is currently the Western Wall plaza was filled with low buildings when Israel liberated the area during the Six Day War of June 1967, and was later cleared away – except for the mound which is now being excavated.

The plan is to install a permanent steel bridge to access the Temple Mount.

By the way, since it is not known exactly where on the Holy Temple stood, Jews are prohibited by Torah law to set foot onto the Temple Mount, until such time that the Temple is rebuilt.

Goals & Destiny

I've been reaching a lot of articles on Aish.com and keep coming across concepts like goals, expectations, potential, effort and destiny. How do these ideas relate to each other, and how does each pertain to a Jew's life? I'm confused!

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

An excellent question, and I can understand your confusion.

Goals: What you want to accomplish.

Expectations: What you think you are capable of accomplishing.

Goals should be congruent with expectations in order to prevent frustration. In other words, goals have to be realistic. This includes not just what we know about ourselves but what we know about other people as well -- since they are often involved in the fulfillment of our own potential.

Potential: What you can become. Each person has to strive to be aware of his own potential and set his goals accordingly.

Effort is what we put forth to fulfill our goals. Prayer is one part of effort.

Destiny: What will happen to you. This is determined either as a result of the choices you make with your free will, or that which has been ordained in Heaven as your "lot." We are obligated to try to improve our lot whenever possible. Yet we may find that certain things are "ordained." Our job at that point is to accept what God has ordained for us. And that is perhaps the greatest challenge of all.

The best way to assess all these factors is to engage in a daily “Cheshbon” - a spiritual accounting. Just as any businessperson would take care to know where he is gaining and where is losing ground, so too we should treat our lives with the same degree of concern.

Read more about the idea of “Cheshbon” at: http://www.aish.com/h/hh/gar/48954726.html and http://www.aish.com/h/hh/gar/48955816.html