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GOOD MORNING! Many people make the mistake of saying they are "not religious" when what they mean is "I am not fully observant." (The truth is, no one is fully observant; we all try the best we can based on our knowledge, convictions and situations.) Even people who say they don't believe in God will in the "same breath" say that they pray. Ask people, "If you could talk with any being, who would you chose to talk with?" Probably everyone of us would choose "God" - if they felt it was a possibility.
___Traditionally, the Torah teaches us that if we want to connect to the Almighty we should: (1) learn Torah (after all, if you want to understand the Author, read His words...), (2) live according to the 613 Commandments (yes, there are more than 10 ... ), and (3) pray (pour out your heart and talk to God) or say Psalms. I think for many, there is still an unfilled desire to connect emotionally with the Almighty, to feel a sense of awe from His presence, to be surrounded by a feeling of holiness and spirituality -and even a wish to hear His heartfelt advice for our problem and situation.
___What if there were answers from the Almighty? What would be His words of wisdom and directions for us?
___One of my favorite books is My Father, My King: Connecting with the Creator by my good friend, prolific author (over 20 books to date), energetic speaker, personal counselor, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at http://www.judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242). From time to time, nearly everyone talks to God, but what would be God's answer if it were in words, rather than just in actions? Reb Zelig beautifully writes awe-inspiring responses based on Torah sources. Reading this book enhances spirituality!
___Based on his book, Reb Zelig has developed the following focal points to review daily to increase spirituality and enjoyment in life:
20 IDEAS TO CONNECT WITH THE ALMIGHTY
- Have a constant awareness of our Father, our King, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. As soon as you think of the Creator, you immediately connect with Him. Think of Him often.
- Feel a sense of awe for the Creator by frequently contemplating the size and complexity of the universe.
- Realize that you are created in the image of the Creator and you are His child. When looking in a mirror, say to yourself, "You are a child of the Creator."
- Everything you have in life is a gift from the Creator. Be constantly grateful. This gratitude creates love.
- The Almighty loves us more than we love ourselves. Frequently say to yourself, "The Almighty loves me even more than I love myself."
- Realize that everything that the Almighty causes to happen in your life is for a positive purpose. Some you will recognize, some you won't. Frequently repeat, "This, too, is for the good."
- Respect each human being because each human being is created in the Almighty's image.
- When you do an act of kindness, you are emulating the Almighty. Do so frequently.
- Every prayer you say, whether formal or in your own words, is an expression of connecting with the Creator.
- Make a blessing to thank the Creator before and after eating. This adds a spiritual dimension to the food you eat.
- Thank your Father, your King, for each and every breath. Since you are constantly breathing you are always connecting with the Creator.
- Let your awareness of the Almighty's love for you give you an inner sense of serene Trust.
- Developing your character traits is considered "Walking in the ways of the Almighty." Each positive step takes you far.
- Every life situation has been sent to you as a test and challenge from the Creator to help you grow and develop your character.
- Don't speak against or harm the Almighty's children. Thinking of this and acting accordingly connects you with the Creator.
- You are always in the present moment. Right now, connect with the Creator even if you've gotten off-track a moment ago.
- Sincere repentance out of love for the Almighty elevates you to such a degree that you can retroactively elevate the negative of the past with an absolute resolution not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
- Feel joy for the joy of the Almighty's children and have compassion for their distress.
- Realize that you are never alone. Wherever you are, the Almighty is always with you. Speak to Him in your own way and ask Him for your wants and needs.
- At all times, hear Your Father, your King, Creator and Sustainer of the universe saying to you, "I love you."
For more on "Spirituality - Coming Close to God" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
COMING CLOSE TO GOD
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Torah Portion of the Week
___Acharei Mot includes the Yom Kippur service where the Cohen Gadol cast lots to designate two goats - one to be sacrificed, the other to be driven to a place called Azazel after the Cohen Gadol - the High Priest - confesses the sins of the people upon its head. Today it is a very popular epithet in Israel to instruct another person in the heat of an argument to "go to Azazel." (I don't believe the intent, however, is to look for the goat.)
___The Torah portion of Kedoshim invokes the Jewish people to be holy! And then it proceeds with the spiritual directions on how to achieve holiness, closeness to the Almighty. Within it lie the secrets and the prescription for Jewish continuity. If any group of people is to survive as an entity, it must have common values and goals - a direction and a meaning. By analyzing this portion we can learn much about our personal and national destiny.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
___The Torah states:
|"My ordinances you shall do, and My statutes you shall observe, to walk with them, I am the Lord, Your God." (Leviticus 18:4).|
___What does the Torah mean "to walk with them?"
___The Ksav Sofer, a famous Hungarian rabbi, commented that the words "to walk with them" mean that a person needs to walk from one level to the next level. hat is, a person should constantly keep on growing and elevating himself.
___It is not enough to keep on the same level that you were on the previous day. Rather, each day should be a climb higher than the day before. When difficult tests come your way, you might not always appreciate them. The only way to keep on elevating yourself is to keep passing more and more difficult life-tests. View every difficulty as a means of elevating yourself by applying the appropriate Torah principles. At the end of each day, ask yourself, "What did I do today to elevate myself a little higher?"
___If you cannot find an answer, ask yourself, "What can I plan to do tomorrow to elevate myself?"
CANDLE LIGHTING - April 27
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 6:08 - Hong Kong 6:29 - Honolulu 6:36
J'Burg 5:23 - London 7:58 - Los Angeles 7:15
Melbourne 5:20 - Mexico City 7:39 - Miami 7:32
New York 7:29 - Singapore 6:50 - Toronto 7:56
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Science is not only compatible with spirituality;
it is a profound source of spirituality.
-- Carl Sagan
Happy 90th Birthday to|
Daniel D. Cantor,
a prince amongst men.
Richard Finkelstein & Brian Sherr