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Vayetzei(Genesis 28:10-32:3)

Vayetzei 5769

GOOD MORNING! Last week I wrote about Trust in God. It occurred to me that for one to trust in God, one must first believe in the existence of God. It has been said that to a believer, no evidence is necessary and to a disbeliever, no evidence is sufficient. However, if one is inclined to believe and wants evidence, the evidence exists.

There are 7 classical categories of evidence why we, the Jewish people, believe that the Almighty exists. Lawrence Kelemen put together a nice presentation of several categories in Permission to Believe (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242).

One of the classical presentations is the Design Proof. Reduced to its simplest form: If you find a watch in the desert you don't exclaim, "Wow! Millions of years of sand blowing in the desert and poof ... you have a watch!" Design implies designer. Someone designed the watch. When you compare the complexities of a watch with that of a human body, or any microcosm of the human body like the eye, the watch pales in comparison.

Recently my beloved colleague, Rabbi Stephen Baars (of GetBliss.com fame for helping people create great marriages) sent me a November "Discovery Magazine" article entitled "A Universe Built for Us" which updates evidence for the Design Proof to include the whole universe!

The basic theme of the article is that "...everything here, right down to the photons ... bears witness to an extraordinary fact about the universe: its basic properties are uncannily suited for life. Tweak the laws of physics in just about any way and - in this universe, anyway -life as we know it would not exist."

The article gives examples of unrelated properties of the universe, gravity, atoms, etc.:

"There are many such examples ... so many, in fact, that physicists can't dismiss them all as mere accidents.

" 'We have a lot or really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible.' Linde says.

"Physicists don't like coincidences. They like even less the notion that life is somehow central to the universe, and yet recent discoveries are forcing them to confront that very idea. Life, it seems, is not an incidental component of the universe, burped up out of a random chemical brew on a lonely planet.... In some strange sense, it appears that we are not adapted to the universe; the universe is adapted to us."

What an amazing article! What tremendous testimony to the order and design of the universe. And what did the writer conclude from the order and design of the universe?

"Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle. Or call it the biggest problem in physics. Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse."

In other words, the only way they can explain how we ended up with such a universe is that there must be billions of other universes out there that didn't work, and we are on the one that did! Even the article admits it's a theory that cannot be proved or unproved, you can't find these universes. The only reason to have the theory of multiverse is so they don't need God.

I imagine it is possible that the writer could just have easily concluded: "many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe was created by God." However, he decided to conclude that we are the product of a virtual improbable and unprovable probability. It reminds me of a quote which I will paraphrase from W.C. Fields, "I tried bourbon and water and got drunk, I tried scotch and water and got drunk, I tried vodka and water and got drunk. And you know what I learned? Stay away from water!" To a believer, no evidence is necessary and to a disbeliever, no evidence is sufficient...


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Torah Portion of the Week
Vayetze

This week we have the trials and tribulations of Jacob living with and working for his father-in-law, Laban. Jacob agreed to work as a shepherd 7 years for Rachel only to have Laban switch daughters on him at the marriage ceremony. (This is why we have the bedekin, the lifting of the veil, at traditional weddings - to ensure one is marrying the right bride.)

As Jacob tries to build his equity, Laban changes their agreement time after time. After 20 years, the Almighty tells Jacob the time has come to return to the land of Canaan. Jacob and his household secretly leave only to be pursued by Laban who has claims to put forth. The story ends with peace and blessings between Jacob and Laban.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And Leah conceived and gave birth to a son and she called his name Reuven, because she said the Almighty has seen my affliction, for now my husband will love me. And she conceived again and she gave birth to a son. And she said, for the Almighty has heard that I am hated, and he gave me also this. And she called his name Shimon" (Genesis 29:32,33).

What differences do we see in these two verses on how the Almighty perceived Leah's plight? What do we learn from this?

In the first verse, the Almighty saw Leah's affliction. In the second verse, the Almighty heard that she is hated.

Since we have a mitzvah (commandment) to emulate the Almighty, we need to learn from here to become more sensitive to the emotional pain of others however they express it. People express their pain through words and through variations in their facial expressions and body language.

To hear someone's pain, be aware of both the content and the tone of voice of another person. The more perceptive you become, the more you will notice slight nuances in tone of voice that reflect painful feelings.

Also, learn to see someone's pain even if he does not express it verbally. Be aware of slight changes in a person's facial expression, skin color, breathing rate, muscle tone that serves as an announcement of emotional suffering. The more you are able to notice pain, the more chesed (kindness) you will be able to do.


CANDLE LIGHTING - December 5
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)

Jerusalem 4:00
Guatemala 5:14 - Hong Kong 5:21 - Honolulu 5:31
J'Burg 6:31 - London 3:34 - Los Angeles 4:25
Melbourne 8:12 - Mexico City 5:39 - Miami 5:11
New York 4:12 - Singapore 6:39 - Toronto 4:23


QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

If you want to tell people the truth,
make them laugh,
otherwise they'll kill you.
-- Oscar Wilde


 
With Deep Appreciation to

Jack & Diana Hirsch



Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

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Copyright Rabbi Kalman Packouz 2008

Published: November 29, 2008

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