August 29, 2014

Universal Morality - The Seven Noahide Laws - Impact

Universal Morality - The Seven Noahide Laws - Impact



According to the sages of the Talmud, there are 70 families with 70 paths within the great Family of Man. And each individual has his or her path within a path. Yet, there is one universal basis for us all.
At the dawn of human history, G-d gave man seven rules to follow in order that His world be sustained. So it is recounted in the Book of Genesis as interpreted by our tradition in the Talmud. There will come a time, our sages told us, that the children of Noah will be prepared to return to this path. That will be the beginning of a new world, a world of wisdom and peace.
At the heart of this universal moral code is the acknowledgement that morality - indeed, civilization itself - must be predicated on the belief in G-d. Unless we recognize a Higher Power to whom we are responsible and who observes and knows our actions, we will not transcend the selfishness of our character and the subjectivity of our intellect. If man himself is the final arbiter of right and wrong, then "right", for him or her, will be what they desire, regardless of its consequences to the other inhabitants of earth.
At Mount Sinai, G-d charged the Children of Israel to serve as His "Light unto the nations" by bringing all of humanity to a recognition of their Creator and adherence to His laws.
For most of Jewish history, however, circumstance did not permit our people to spread these principles, other than by indirect means. When the Lubavitcher Rebbe began speaking about publicizing them as a preparation for a new era, he was reviving an almost lost tradition.

What is most beautiful about these laws, is the breathing room they provide. They resonate equally in a hut in Africa or a palace in India, in a school in Moscow or a suburban home in America. They are like the guidelines of a great master of music or art: firm, reliable and comprehensive -- but only a base, and upon this base each people and every person may build.
"The Seven Noahide Laws" are a sacred inheritance of all the children of Noah, one that every person on the face of the earth can use as the basis of his or her spiritual, moral and pragmatic life. If enough of us will begin to incorporate these laws into our lives, we will see a different world very soon. Sooner than we can imagine.
THE 7 LAWS
1
Acknowledge that there is only one G-d who is Infinite and Supreme above all things. Do not replace that Supreme Being with finite idols, be it yourself, or other beings. This command includes such acts as prayer, study and meditation.
2
Respect the Creator. As frustrated and angry as you may be, do not vent it by cursing your Maker.
3
Respect human life. Every human being is an entire world. To save a life is to save that entire world. To destroy a life is to destroy an entire world. To help others live is a corollary of this principle.
4
Respect the institution of marriage. Marriage is a most Divine act. The marriage of a man and a woman is a reflection of the oneness of G-d and His creation. Disloyalty in marriage is an assault on that oneness.
5
Respect the rights and property of others. Be honest in all your business dealings. By relying on G-d rather than on our own conniving, we express our trust in Him as the Provider of Life.
6
Respect G-d's creatures. At first, Man was forbidden to consume meat. After the Great Flood, he was permitted - but with a warning: Do not cause unnecessary suffering to any creature.
7
Maintain justice. Justice is G-d's business, but we are given the charge to lay down necessary laws and enforce them whenever we can. When we right the wrongs of society, we are acting as partners in the act of sustaining the creation.

August 28, 2014

Why Did G‑d Allow the Holocaust? - Wisdom & Teachings

Why Did G‑d Allow the Holocaust? - Wisdom & Teachings





By the Grace of G‑d
23 Shevat, 5744
[January 28, 1984]
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Greeting and Blessing
This is in reply to your letter of January 23, 1984, in which you write that you were born in a DP camp in Germany, a child of parents who survived the Holocaust, and you ask why G‑d permitted the Holocaust to take place, etc.
No doubt you know that there is substantial literature dealing with this terrible tragedy, and a letter is hardly the medium to deal adequately with the question. However, since you have written to me, I must give you some answer, Hence, the following thoughts.
Jews—including you and me—are “believers, the children of believers,” our Sages declare. Deep in one’s heart every Jew believes there is a G‑d Who is the Creator and Master of the world, and that the world has a purpose. Any thinking person who contemplates the solar system, for example, or the complexities of an atom, must come to the conclusion and conviction that our universe did not come about by some “freak accident.” Wherever you turn, you see design and purpose.
It follows that a human being “also” has a purpose, certainly where millions of human beings are concerned.
Since the Creator created the world with a purpose, it is also logical to assume that He wished the purpose to be realized, and therefore, would reveal to the only “creature” on earth who has an intelligence to understand such matters, namely, humankind, what this purpose is, and how to go about realizing it. This, indeed, is the ultimate purpose of every human being, namely, to do his or her share in the realization of the Divine design and purpose of Creation. It is also common sense that without such “Divine revelation,” a human being would not, of his own accord, have what exactly is that purpose and how to achieve it, any more than a minuscule part or component in a highly complex system could comprehend the whole system, much less the creator of the system.
The illustration often given in this connection is the case of an infant, whose lack of ability to understand an intricate theory of a mature scientist would not surprise anyone, although both the infant and the scientist are created beings, and the difference between them is only relative, in terms of age and knowledge, etc. Indeed, it is possible that the infant may some day surpass the scientist in knowledge and insight. Should it, then, be surprising that a created human being cannot understand the ways of the Creator?
It is also understandable that since every person has a G‑d-given purpose in life, he or she is provided with the capacity to carry out that purpose fully.
A further important point to remember is that since G‑d created everything with a purpose, there is nothing lacking or superfluous in the world. This includes also the human capacity.
It follows that a person’s capacity in terms of knowledge, time, energy, etc., must fully be applied to carrying out his, or her, purpose in life. If any of these resources is diverted to something that is extraneous to carrying out the Divine purpose, it would not only be misused and wasteful, but would detract to that extent from the real purpose.
In the Torah, called Toras Chaim (“instruction of living”), G‑d has revealed what the purpose of Creation is, and provided all the knowledge necessary for a human being, particularly a Jew, to carry it out in life. Having designated the Jewish people as a “Kingdom of Kohanim [priests] and a holy nation,” a Jew is required to live up to all the Divine precepts in the Torah. Gentiles are required to keep only the Seven Basic Moral Laws—the so-called Seven Noachide Laws with all their ramifications—which must be the basis of any and every human society, if it is to be human in accordance with the will and design of the Creator.
One of the basic elements of the Divine Design, as revealed in the Torah, is that G‑d desires it to be carried out by choice and not out of compulsion. Every human being has, therefore, the free will to live in accordance with G‑d’s Will, or in defiance of it.
With all the above in mind, let us return to your question, which is one that has been on the minds of many: Why did G‑d permit the Holocaust?
The only answer we can give is: only G‑d knows.
However, the very fact that there is no answer to this question is, in itself, proof that one is not required to know the answer, or understand it, in order to fulfill one’s purpose in life. Despite the lack of satisfactory answer to the awesome and tremendous “Why?”—one can, and must, carry on a meaningful and productive life, promote justice and kindness in one’s surroundings, and indeed, help create a world where there should be no room for any holocaust, or for any kind of man’s inhumanity to man.
As a matter of fact, in the above there is an answer to an unspoken question: “What should my reaction be?” The answer to this question is certain: It must be seen as a challenge to every Jew—because Jews were the principal victims of the Holocaust—a challenge that should be met head-on, with all resolve and determination, namely, that regardless how long it will take the world to repent for the Holocaust and make the world a fitting place to live in for all human beings—I, for one, will not slacken in my determination to carry out my purpose in life, which is to serve G‑d, wholeheartedly and with joy, and make this world a fitting abode—not only for humans, but also for the Shechina, the Divine Presence itself.
Of course, much more could be said on the subject, but why dwell on such a painful matter, when there is so much good to be done?
With blessing,
P.S. Needless to say, the above may be accepted intellectually, and it may ease the mind, but it cannot assuage the pain and upheaval, especially of one who has been directly victimized by the Holocaust.
Thus, in this day and age of rampant suspicion, etc., especially when one is not known personally, one may perhaps say—“Well, it is easy for one who is not emotionally involved to give an ‘intellectual’ explanation . . .”
So, I ought perhaps, to add that I, too, lost in the Holocaust very close and dear relatives such as a grandmother, brother, cousins and others (G‑d should avenge their blood). But, life according to G‑d’s command must go on, and the sign of life is in growth and creativity.


August 24, 2014

Did MO Law Allow for Deadly-Force Arrest of Mike Brown?

Did MO Law Allow for Deadly-Force Arrest of Mike Brown?

Ruth Wisse and Moshe Halbertal – Jews and Power » The Tikvah Fund

Ruth Wisse and Moshe Halbertal – Jews and Power » The Tikvah Fund

Creative Community For Peace - Commitment to Peace & Justice

Creative Community For Peace - Commitment to Peace & Justice





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