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Bo(Exodus 10:1-13:16)

Bo 5768

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GOOD MORNING! What is true spirituality? My beloved friend, Rabbi Avraham Goldhar, who has a revolutionary approach to helping kids get better grades with less study time in both secular and Jewish studies (Goldhar.com), came up with the following paradigm of attributes to clarify your definition of spirituality. Put a check mark by one attribute from each pair that you think is more spiritual:

Emotion...............

Kindness.............

Community..........

God.....................

Serenity...............

Intellect

Justice

Solitude

Nature

Challenge

Now, if you want to try something interesting, put an "x" mark by each attribute that you associate with the Jewish people.

What is fascinating is that most people associate spirituality with emotion, kindness, solitude, nature and serenity ... and the Jewish people with intellect, justice, community, God and challenge. The reason is that we have an Eastern notion of spirituality - an all encompassing emotional bliss connecting with the universe. The Jewish approach to spirituality is based on fulfilling a purpose, to fix the world (tikun olom)- which requires intellect, justice, community, God and challenge.

For the Jew, intellect is to be channeled into emotion - emotions can't rule you; you must do the right thing. Justice provides for a world of kindness. A society has to be willing to identify rights and wrongs and stand up to evil. If not, one can attempt to do kindness, but end up enabling evil. Community provides you with an understanding of who you are – a member of a people – even when you are alone, you are still part of something more. Realizing that there is a Creator and having a relationship with the Creator makes the natural much more profound. This world is a veiled reality with the Creator behind it. People can only receive serenity when they live up to their challenges; otherwise, they are tormented in their pursuit of serenity by not living up to their potential.

There was once a Jewish girl who stopped in Israel on her way to India to seek spirituality. Friends suggested that she go to Neve Yerushalayim to take a class and give Judaism one last shot before seeking other pathways to spirituality. The one class happened to be studying the laws regarding returning a lost item - when is an item considered lost, what if the person gave up hope of its return, what constitutes a legitimate identifying mark to claim the item, to what extent and cost of time and money are you obligated for returning the item... The girl was furious! This is NOT spirituality. She left in a huff and headed off to India.

Six months later she and her guru were discussing a philosophical matter while walking through the village. They came upon a wallet filled with rupees. The guru picked it up, put it in his pocket and continued with his point. The girl interrupted him and asked, "Aren't you going to see if there is identification in the wallet to return it?" The guru replied, "No. It was his karma that he lost it; it's my karma that I found it. It's mine." The girl implored, "But, he might have a large family and that might be his monthly earnings .. they could starve if you don't return it!" The guru responded, "That is their karma."

The young lady then remembered the class she took in Jerusalem - and realized that spirituality without justice, kindness and concern for others is just a false spiritual high, corrupt emotion. She returned to Jerusalem and ultimately returned to her Torah heritage.

The Torah gives us great insight on spirituality. The Almighty appears to Avraham on the third day following his Bris mila (circumcision of the covenant). In the middle of their conversation, Avraham saw three men approaching and wishes to offer hospitality. He says to the Almighty, "My Lord, if I have found favor in Your eyes, do not go away from Your servant." Avraham is asking the Almighty to "wait on hold" while he goes to take care of three mortals? How can this be? What can be greater spirituality than talking with God?

The answer is given in the Talmud (Shevuos 35b, Shabbos 127a), "Hospitality to travelers is greater than receiving the Divine Presence" - better to be like God than to talk with God! Better to take responsibility for the world and its inhabitants, than to commune with God. That is true spirituality ... to be God-like - and that is why one needs intellect, justice, community, God and challenge if one truly wants genuine spirituality!

For more on "Spirituality" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!

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Torah Portion of the Week
Bo

This week we conclude the ten plagues with the plagues of locusts, darkness and the death of the first-born. The laws of Passover are presented, followed by the commandment to wear tefillin, consecrate the first-born animal and redeem one's first born son. The Torah tells us that at some time in the future your son will ask you about these commandments and you will answer: "With a show of power, God brought us out of Egypt, the place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us leave, God killed all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike. I, therefore, offer to God all male first-born (animals) and redeem all the first-born of sons. And it shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your eyes (Tefillin), for with a strong hand the Almighty removed us from Egypt" (Ex. 13:15).

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

In this week's portion the Almighty gives the first commandment to the Jewish people as a whole - to decree the beginning of the Jewish month. This is important for setting the date of each Jewish holiday. It is so important that when the Greek Seleucids were persecuting us at the time of the Hanukah story, they forbade the Jewish court to decree the beginning of the new month. The Torah states:

"This month shall be for you the first of the months (referring to the month of Nisson when Pesach occurs. The new year of the reign of king starts with the month of Nisson. The new year for the creation of mankind starts with the month of Tishrei)." (Exodus 12:2)

What lesson for life can we learn from this verse?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein commented that the month of Tishrei is the month of the creation of the world. The month of Nisson is the month of the exodus from Egypt. Both months are lessons in our awareness of the Almighty's power.

The first lesson is that the Almighty is the Creator of the universe.

The second lesson is that of hashgacha pratis, Divine Providence. The Almighty controls the events of the world and therefore He is the One Who enslaved the Children of Israel and He is the One Who freed them. The Torah is telling us in this verse that the lesson of the Almighty's guiding historical events is even more important than the lesson of the creation of the world.

One can believe that the Almighty created the world and this might not make any difference in a person's behavior and attitudes. However, once a person is aware of the supervision of the Almighty in daily events, he will improve his behavior. Moreover, his trust in the Almighty will free him from worry. The month of Nisson is the first month of the year and by remembering this we remember all that is symbolized by the Exodus. This will have a major effect on what we do and think.


CANDLE LIGHTING - January 11
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)

Jerusalem 4:19
Guatemala 5:31 - Hong Kong 5:40 - Honolulu 5:50
J'Burg 6:47 - London 3:56 - Los Angeles 4:45
Melbourne 8:27 - Mexico City 5:58 - Miami 5:32
New York 4:30 - Singapore 6:56 - Toronto 4:43



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

A man should never be ashamed
to own he has been in the wrong,
which is by saying, in other words,
that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
- Alexander Pope



Happy Birthday to
Katie Crespin
Thank you for 25 wonderful years.
I have been blessed with a
true Eishes Chayil!
I love you, Saby

Published: January 5, 2008

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