As a reporter here in Heaven, I occasionally have the chance to interview some very special people. I recently had the marvelous opportunity to speak with Rabbi Noah Weinberg and inquire about his unique perspective on the world, his legacy, and the Jewish People. The transcript of that conversation follows:
Heavenly Reporter: Rabbi Weinberg, welcome to your new world. We are fortunate to have you.
Rabbi Noah Weinberg: A great privilege to be here.
HR: I trust everything here is to your satisfaction.
RNW: I actually prefer the word "pleasure." I spent much of my life teaching people about how to attain real pleasure. But only now do I understand how true my words were.
HR: What do you mean?
RNW: Human beings are natural pleasure seekers. They are programmed that way. But a vast majority of them get confused. They end up attaining comfort instead of pleasure. Or they believe that life is all about physical or emotional pleasures, instead of spiritual ones. If only they could see me now. Boy, were they wrong!
HR: What exactly would they see?
RNW: That depends. You see, people pretty much see what they want to see. That's why so many people are depressed or don't fulfill their potential. But real truth seekers would observe me now in a state of complete and infinite bliss, for I now reside in the Grand Palace of the Almighty.
HR: Could you...er...excuse the expression, bring that statement 'down to Earth?'
RNW: It's kind of hard to explain. But I have finally rid myself of this great burden that I carried with me for 78 years – it's called the Guf – the body. It demanded so much attention. I had to feed it, clothe it, soothe it, and satisfy it. What a job that was. Sometimes the Guf becomes so needy that it completely obfuscates the neshama – the soul. That is life's ultimate challenge; remembering that God created us as spiritual beings – souls – that yearn to cleave to the Source. And now that I have re-united with the Source there is no more static, no more interference, no more distractions. Ahh........that's what living in the Palace is all about.
HR: That was beautifully put, Rabbi Weinberg. You seem to have attained 'five finger clarity' about this.
RNW: Hey! I thought that was my expression!
HR: It is. We just liked it so much that we brought it upstairs. We use it all the time here.
HR: You had enormous success in your finite years on Earth – Aish HaTorah, no doubt, your greatest. What were the main ingredients that led to those accomplishments?
RNW: Eight factors: Purpose, parents, pleasure, failure, Divine assistance, great teachers, devoted students, and a dedicated wife.
HR: Care to explain?
I was ready to die – and live – for the sake of the Jewish People.
RNW: When I was young I made a clear decision that I was ready to die for the sake of the Jewish People. Once I knew that, it was obvious that I was also ready to live for the Jewish People. That is what I call 'purpose.'
I was blessed with parents of similar clarity and self-sacrifice. They sent my sister to Poland, from New York City, when she was just 18, to study with the remarkable Sara Schneirer. They encouraged my brothers and me to immerse ourselves in Torah study. They supported our independence, taught us to speak out for Truth, and constantly reminded us that God loved us even more than they did.
I lived for pleasure, but understood, and informed everyone I met that there were different levels of pleasure. And I reminded them (and myself) that the highest level of pleasure attainable was living with the reality of God's awesome and unlimited power and love. That insight gave me direction, comfort, and success in life.
So many people fear failure without realizing how valuable it can be. I spent some of the greatest years of my life steeped in failure – organizations, universities, projects – you name it, I failed at it. But it never got me down. Disappointed? Sure. But depressed? Never. I was raised to learn from every experience and to apply my knowledge to the next challenge.
I guess Divine assistance is sort of obvious – especially over here. But nobody gets anywhere without the Mighty hand guiding and orchestrating. And the key to getting that help is being real with God. When you relate to Him as an omnipotent Being, who loves you unconditionally, and 'wants' only your ultimate benefit, the odds are He will respond.
Having great teachers is a hallmark of Jewish History. Our entire existence has, in fact, been dependent on the ability of our teachers to transmit the laws, customs, culture, stories, and heritage to each generation. Believe me, I had some really outstanding teachers. But how many people are fortunate enough to have their very own brother become their greatest teacher of all? It sure is special to be together with him again. I missed him more than anyone could imagine.
Our Sages taught us: From all my teachers I grew wise; but from my students even more so. I was blessed with young men and women who 'got it.' They understood the vision. They lived with clarity and self-sacrifice. They took the ball and ran with it. They never stopped asking questions. I prayed for them every day and I loved them like I did my very own children.
And finally, without a wife who shared my dreams, refined my imagination, led by example, and tolerated my impossible schedule, nothing I attempted would have amounted to anything. I owe her a debt that can never be repaid.
HR: Amidst all your successes, you must have left the Earth below with some measure of regret and disappointment. Can you reveal what you wish you had finished?
RNW: How much time do you have?
HR: An eternity, I guess.
RNW: Well, it won't take that long. As long as the job wasn't finished, I was never really satisfied. That was my personality.
Despite the obvious advancement of the Ba'al Teshuva movement, there remains millions of Jews who are assimilated and estranged from their heritage. That is unacceptable.
Jews around the world, especially in Europe, are experiencing mounting anti-Semitism. We cannot be silent.
Sometimes a problem seems so large, we instinctively believe we are helpless. The continuous threat of Radical Islam is our greatest challenge today. The fact that the entire Western World is affected does not exempt the Jewish People from leading the fight against it. We must exert our maximum effort, no matter how daunting the task may appear.
Every Israeli citizen lives in fear and insecurity. We haven't done enough for them.
Disunity and the absence of a true love for Judaism and the Almighty are still rampant. Why can't we really get it right?
An overwhelming majority of the media is inexcusably biased and flagrantly slanted. Everybody knows it, but appears to be either too weak or too apathetic to respond. The damage this breeds is incalculable. How long will we allow it to continue?
An unprecedented amount of Torah is being studied, yet the ignorance of basic Torah concepts, the absence of a true love for Judaism and the Almighty, and world-wide disunity among us, are still rampant. Why can't we really get it right?
I could go on, but that is the short list. There's plenty of work left.
HR: Some people might read this interview and think that these kinds of discussions should remain private. There's no need to publish the concocted imaginings of every would-be writer. What would you say to them?
RNW: These are the same naysayers who throw a wet blanket on every creative idea that they don't think of themselves. They have it all wrong. If this forum can send my message to a new or rejuvenated audience, then it needs to be used. People need to wake up, before it is too late. Just because I am no longer there doesn't mean I cannot be heard. I told everyone I would never stop fighting for the Jewish People. I meant it.
HR: So many people are so sad since you left them. Any final words of consolation?
RNW: The Jewish nation has a storied history of affliction and tribulation. Nary has a single generation ever experienced true peace and security. And every prophet who ever admonished the populace to return to full devotion and service has always reminded them that complete redemption is surely on the way. Our existence has always been miraculous and we will never be forsaken.
Today is no different. No matter how bleak the picture may seem, no matter how forlorn we may, at times, feel, we can never lose hope. We have a promise. It is an eternal one. And it is one that we and our ancestors have witnessed, time and time again, to be true and unyielding. And it will, once again, be proclaimed to all. As I was fond of saying, "You can count on it. It's in the bank."
Don't be afraid to be bold. And don't be afraid to fail.
On a personal note, I want to say thank you. Every word of condolence was beautifully expressed. Every tribute I was given was moving and inspirational. Every prayer and tear shed on my behalf was truly extraordinary. But if you really understood who I was, and if you wanted to demonstrate how strongly you related to my teachings and concepts, you would know that only actions can do the job.
Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid to be bold. Don't be afraid to tell the truth. Don't be afraid to think and to execute. And don't be afraid to fail. The only thing to fear is apathy and inaction. Think, study, plan, and implement.
And don't forget to pray.
We will get there.