A conversation about G-d, mysteries of the universe and soul, Israel... and speculation about biblical prophecies and the end of days.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

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​It’s Not Enough

   by Reb Gutman Locks   
     ​It's Not Enough

 

     An American Yeshiva student was helping out at the tefillin stand. He is a really loving guy and likes to help. When I walked up to him he was helping a Russian Oleh Chadash (new immigrant) to say the Shema. He would say a word in Hebrew and the Russian standing there with tefillin on very seriously repeated word for word. I yelled over to him, "Nu! In a language he understands!"

     The student motioned for me to wait but then as soon as he finished word for word all three paragraphs of the Shema, he smiled and started to take the tefillin off the Russian.

     "Wait a minute!"

     I jumped in and pulled the Russian away from the boy. At first he didn't want to come but then when I told him what he had to do he immediately agreed.

     "Don't take off the tefillin until you pray for your family and for the Jews in danger. Take a couple of minutes and talk to G-d."

     He liked the idea and walked off to the Kotel. He walked around, had a friend take a lot of pictures of him with the tefillin on in front of the Kotel, and most important of all he stopped from time to time, closed his eyes and talked to G-d in his heart.

     I told the yeshiva boy to look and see what was going on with the man. He was happy with the mitzvah. It brought him into a personal conversation with Hashem. He liked what he was doing. He did not care one way or the other for the tefillin and mechanically repeating all those words that he did not understand. It was meaningless to him. But now, talking to G-d with tefillin on is something very special for him.

     "You might as well have given him Chinese to repeat!"

     This is such an important point. So many times outreach helpers think that all you have to do is the physical mitzvah and then you will have fulfilled the requirements. I assume they think this way because that is all they do.

     But no, we want more than that. We want the Jew to have a spiritual moment, an intimacy with Hashem, a meaningful time. These are the things that will bring him back to do the mitzvah again, not repeating words that he does not understand. It's not enough to just get the mitzvah, we want to get the Jew, too.

 

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Friday, January 20, 2017

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Why Sleep?

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   
     Why Sleep?

 

     A Shabbos guest asked, "Why did Hashem make it so we have to sleep?"

     Actually this is a very deep question.

     When Hashem first created the Universe He did not create people. He created angels. Angels are really great. They do exactly what they are told to do. Actually they do exactly what they were programed to do. They are more like spiritual machines. They do not have free will. They do not grow. They have no need to eat or sleep. Really great creations, right?

     Well, it seems that they are great, but they are also boring (from Hashem's point of view not from ours). No challenge, no growth, no work, just react as their program dictates. Not only are they boring, but Hashem had another huge problem.

     Hashem is very loving, but He had no one to love. How can you satisfy your love by loving a computer program, even an angelic one? So Hashem created us to have someone to give to, someone to watch grow, someone to make decisions and to be richly rewarded for their proper choices.

     When you look at a mother feeding her infant you begin to see the love that Hashem has for His creation. And like the mother, as the infant grows she expects certain things from the child. Obviously, all that she wants from the child is for the child's own good, so she trains, leads, coaxes, and if need be she yells or even spanks. Ouch!

     So there you have it. Hashem wanted someone to love, but He wanted them to deserve His love, so He gave us what to do. As we all know, it can be exhausting, all the things that we have to do. So Hashem, in His kindness also said, "Take a break. Go to sleep."

 

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

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I Wonder

​   by Reb Gutman Locks 
        I Wonder

                             

     The Old City was painted red for a few minutes early this morning. I wonder if He does these kinds of things intentionally to enjoy the moment, or if they are just automatically the way things work,... part of the package.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

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Why are Jews Here?

 by Reb Gutman Locks -  at Mystical Paths
-  Why
Are Jews Here?




      
     What
is the purpose of existence? What is the Jew’s spiritual work? What do mitzvahs
do for us? How can I enjoy doing a mitzvah? What is the meaning of tefillin? What
do the blessings we say really mean? How do we reveal G-d’s Presence? So many
questions…

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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Cold Indifference


    by Reb Gutman Locks

 

     He's an Israeli teen. When I asked him to come put on tefillin he looked at me as if he did not know what I was talking about.

     "Come… tefillin!"

     "Why?" he shrugged his shoulders.

     "'Why?' It's a mitzvah."

     "No, we don't do that." He looked surprised that I would even suggest such a thing.

     "But you're Jewish. Is your mother Jewish?"

     "Yeah, but we don't do that."

      He looked at the tefillin coldly, as if they were something from a different country, a strange culture.

     "How old are you?"

     "Sixteen."

     "Did you have a bar mitzvah?"

     "Sure, right here."

     "Did you put on tefillin then?"

     "Yeah, but that was the only time. We don't do it."

     "You're a Jew and you came to the Kotel for some reason. Are you right handed?"

      He nodded, "Yes."

      I pulled his arm and pushed up his sleeve. He said the blessing and read the Shema indifferently, zero interest, zero emotion. Unaffected.

     When he finished I moved him to the side and said, "Now for the important part. When you do a mitzvah anywhere in the world, and all the more so at the Kotel, it opens up a spiritual opportunity. It's as if the Gate to Heaven opens and Hashem is listening to you with both ears. Pray for your family, for our soldiers, for the Jews in danger. Talk to Hashem."

     For some reason he took what I said seriously. He stared up above the Kotel and perhaps for the first time in his life, he sincerely talked to Hashem. He was genuine, but as if he was saying, "Okay I'll look." You can see from the picture how intense he was.

     When he finished a few minutes later, he walked back over to me. He was looking down at the ground. Then he looked up,… he looked me in the eye and he melted. He smiled for the first time and said, "Thank you."

    He looked like an entirely different person. The cold indifference was replaced with warm kindness. He shook my hand and thanked me again.

     I asked him his name.

     He said, "Noam."

     I asked, "What does Noam mean?"

     He answered, "Pleasant."

     I motioned to him with both my hands as if saying, "This is really what you really are." He smiled warmly again.

     As much as he got out of it… I think I got even more.

 

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Monday, January 16, 2017

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By the Rivers of Babylon…

imageThe famous psalm… By the Rivers of Babylon where we sat and wept as we remembered Zion…  If I forget you Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its dexterity.  (Psalm 137)

As Jews we say it before every ‘blessing after a meal’ (except on Shabbos), and we say it at weddings.

Yet we’ve returned from the rivers of Babylon, and the deserts of Syria, and the casbahs of Turkey, and the streets of Rome, and the villages of France, and the forests of Russia, and the killing factories of Germany, and the castles of England, and the cities of the United States of America, and even the outback of Australia. 

And though the Assyrians killed us, and the Babylonians moved us out, and the Samarians displaced us, and the Crusaders came again to kill us, and the Muslims invaded, then the Turks, then the British… we never all left or were driven out, and we never stopped weeping and never forgot Jerusalem or the Holy Land given to us by G-d.

And when they told us we couldn’t pray at the location of G-d’s Temple because they first build a church there, then build 2 mosques there, on the Temple Mount, we prayed at the Western Wall (which others nicknamed the wailing wall as we wept and remembered Zion).  And when the Jordanians captured it and shot those who tried to pray there, we prayed from Mt. Zion where we could only see it in the distance.

But we did NOT forget, we did NOT leave except when forced or killed, we did NOT abandon our inheritance, our land, the home of the Jewish people.

And through miraculous events and the sacrifice of many, we came back, we came home.  We made a desolate land bloom.  And we returned to our holy places, and we returned to Jerusalem.  And eventually to the Holy Wall again in prayer and with tears of joy.

And although the United Nations and the Paris Group of 70 nations, and those who hate the Jews wish to declare “it’s not the Land of the Jews, it’s not the Land of the Bible, it’s not the Holy Land…it’s the land of the invaders, it’s the land of the conquerors, it’s the land of a foreign religion, it’s the land of those who’s very names themselves such as (when translated from Arabic) say “the Iraqi” and “the Egyptian””.

Regardless of what they say, it’s the Holy Land, it’s the Land of the Jewish People, it’s G-d’s Gift to the Jews, it’s the land of the Bible.  We did not forget, and we will not forget. 

The Biblical Prophets tell us they will come, they will declare, and in the end it will be a cup of poison in their hands.  And we are watching it happen on the nightly news.  Foolish ones, do you think the Guardian of Israel slumbers and sleeps?

But they believe in nothing, not even their own words.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

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Being Attractive

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

 

     A religious mother asked me for advice on how to get her daughters to dress modestly. I told her to explain to them what they are really doing.

     A woman, and even more so, a teenage girl, wants to be wanted. It is a natural desire for them. Males, on the other hand have a more primitive desire. They simply want. The problem is that girls mistakenly think that being attractive means that they will be more precious to the males who see them. They are wrong. Being attractive does not mean being beautiful. It means attracting male attention. And what are those males attracted to? Not her beauty. Not her intelligence or her kindness. They are attracted only to her animal body. They want nothing more than to satisfy their animal lust and they imagine doing that with the girls who walk down the street wanting to be attractive.

     This is not what those girls really want. They want to be loved for their goodness not used for their skin. Let their good deeds and kindness come to mind when they are seen, not their animal function. When a decent male looks at modest girls family comes to mind, not body parts.

 

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Friday, January 13, 2017

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Are Women Allowed?

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

 

     The Israeli Supreme Court has given the government one month to explain why women are prohibited from reading from a Torah scroll at the Kotel.

     This has become an extremely heated argument involving the "Women of the Wall," liberal girls from Israel, and now the American Reform "rabbis" have joined them. They are even trying to sneak Torah scrolls into the Kotel area to give to the women so they can force the removal of this restriction. What is wrong with women reading from a Torah scroll at the Kotel? Is there such a Torah law forbidding them from doing this?

     The problem is huge, and women reading from a scroll at the Kotel is but a tiny part of it. The problem has to do with… then what? If the Supreme Court forces the Kotel rabbi to allow women to read from a scroll what will these women want to do next? And then next? And next? Would there be an end to their demands?

     Since the founding of the State of Israel the Kotel has been maintained as a Torah Observant prayer area. The Reform and other alternative movements call Torah Observant Jews "Orthodox," and the tag has caught on. What they mean is; they are modern and relaxed while we, the Torah Observant community, are strict, Orthodox.

     Besides the Reform movement there have been other movements away from Torah Observance, such as the Conservative, Alternative, Open Orthodox, Jewish Renewal, and many more attempts to make the Torah fit the modern Jew's desires. Jewish Renewal even ended up mixing in Buddhism and still calls itself Jewish. But you know what? None of these movements have worked. Every movement away from actual Torah Observance has moved further and further away until now the intermarriage rate in America for non-Observant Jews is over 85%! They are gone, or going very quickly, while the Observant Jews are increasing in number.

     What are some of the things that the Torah forbids that these movements gladly accept? For instance, the Conservative movement recently removed the strict restriction of inter-dating. They accept homosexuals to become rabbis and to live together as couples. They call it an alternative life style while the Torah calls it an abomination. The Reform never had a problem with these things.

     You have to understand that these movements did not start out this way but as time went on and their congregations diminished they became more and more estranged from the Torah's dictates. The Conservative were once considered to be "almost" orthodox. But they tell their congregations that it is alright to drive on Shabbos… if you live too far from the shul to walk. What did this do? At first it increased the attendance, but then it broke up the communities. If you can drive there is no need to live close together. And the congregation quickly came to think, "You can also buy the bagels for breakfast on your way back from Shabbos morning services, if you need them."

     On and on, they started with just a small change…woman can wear tefillin if they want…and then after a while…tefillin became a historical act…"We don't do that anymore."

     According to the Reform teachings, "If the father is Jewish the children are Jewish." Now it seems that the majority of Birthright participants are not Jewish. Only their fathers are Jewish. On and on, as far as you like. Once you open the door it does not get closed again.

     And this is what is so horrible about woman forcing their liberal opinions and practices on us by sneaking a Torah scroll into the Kotel. They do not care about the holiness of the place. They care that they can do whatever they want and not be restricted by the Orthodox establishment.

     The Torah tells us that when Hashem saved the Jewish people from the Egyptians that Miriam and the women went out with song and dance praising Hashem. Why did the women go out without the men? Why weren't the men and women together when they sang and danced? Every alternative Jewish movement insists that the men and women can sing and dance and sit together when they pray.

     So where would the end be if these woman would be allowed to read from Torah scrolls at the Kotel which is something that is traditionally not done? The end would be, G-d forbid, the holy Kotel would become a tourist site for non-Observant Jews and for non-Jews who like history. And what if some Buddhist Jews wanted to do their religious services at the Kotel? Who is to say that these Jews are forbidden to chant and bring a statue with them?

     When the Torah tells us, "My house will become a house of prayer for all people," it says, "My house." In Hashem's house the service is just as the Torah commands, with no alternative services allowed.

     What is a solution? Arrangements were agreed upon for a mixed prayer area to the South of the present Women's' Area of the Kotel but the agreement fell apart when the authorities saw that the women accepted the area but did not cease with their demonstrations for changing the actual Women's' side too. Let that area be used for their mixed prayer services, but only on the condition that they will cease all demonstrations and other attempts to also change the present prayer area. If the Supreme Court would agree then perhaps the issue will be over.

 

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

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Tzedakah

​    by Reb Gutman Locks   
     Tzedakah

 

     Tzedakah means charity, but its root comes from the word justice. We are told that the mitzvah of tzedakah hastens the Redemption. It is considered to be a loan to Hashem.

     When you give tzedakah you hold the coin above the person who is receiving it. The coin falls from the higher to the lower. It falls into his hand and becomes his possession for him to use as he pleases. This is like the soul that comes from the higher, down into the lower body. It comes with the intention to elevate the lower world and so does tzedakah.

     The coin seems to have fallen, but in truth it is going up. When a person passes away he or she stands before the Holy Judge and his life is reviewed. The improper things he did cause him great embarrassment. The burning feeling of this embarrassment that the soul experiences is the source for the metaphor of the fires of hell. Then many small coins come into view, but these coins are not made out of metal. They are made out of brilliant light. They elevate the soul higher and higher. They are the coins that person gave for tzedakah and now Hashem is paying back the loan.

     Pictured above, a father is teaching his young child to give tzedakah. He wants him to grow to live a kind life.

 

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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Sometimes The Ultimate Painter Shows Off

Israel sundown this evening.

IMG_2261

IMG-20170110-WA0006

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Monday, January 09, 2017

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Respond to Terror

​   by Reb Gutman Locks

 

     When terror strikes we must respond with strength. These attacks cost our enemies nothing. At most, the terrorist dies which is what he wanted. His family thinks he is a hero and his people celebrate. There must be a cost to the attackers and to those who send them or the attacks will continue. We must respond both spiritually and politically with strength.

     We see when an attack comes Jews come together. No matter what our background or present beliefs, when an attack comes we comfort one another. This shows that Hashem allows these attacks so we will come together. If we come together before the attacks, if we show love for a fellow Jew for no reason other than he or she is a Jew, then the attacks will cease.

     Politically, in response to this latest attack the Prime Minister should immediately pardon Elor Azaria, the soldier who was convicted of manslaughter for shooting a terrorist. Free Elor today.

     Next, the government should annex at least one settlement for each Jew who was murdered, including their hilltop outposts.

    Free Elor with the announcement that he is being pardoned in response to the terror attack, and annex settlements giving each settlement the additional first name of the Jew whose death caused it to be annexed.

     When the Arabs see what their attacks cost them they will stop, but as long as there is no cost to them they will continue.

 

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Sunday, January 08, 2017

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Which Came First?


​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

 

Rabbi Yehoshua asked:

   I am a Kiruv Rabbi and I am trying to mekarev[i]a non-observant Jewish college student who told me recently that he heard that all academics and scholars say that Zoroastrianism predates Judaism and that Zoroastrianism is the first of the revealed religions in the world and the first monotheistic religion in the world and the mother of all other monotheistic religions in the world and that all the Eschatology concepts found in Judaism were copied from Zoroastrianism, like for example the messianic era, the messiah, every single last person in the whole entire world believing in one G-d alone when the messiah comes, heaven, hell, and everybody in the whole entire world who has ever died throughout all of human history being resurrected from the dead when the messiah comes and living forever and being in gathered to Persia and everybody in the whole entire world will only speak Persian.

     Also that the concept of the kippah and tzitzis was copied from Zoroastrianism, also that Zoroastrianism had a national revelation just like Judaism's, all this stuff is giving him doubts whether or not Judaism is really the truth, and since I don't know anything about Zoroastrianism, so I wanted to ask you if you did and if you could come up with a defensive for why Judaism didn't copy from Zoroastrianism.

 

Gutman's reply:

Shalom Rabbi Yehoshua,

     According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and most sources, Zoroastrianism was founded in the 6th century BCE.[ii] Although some of their sites claim a much older date the evidence dates it from the 6th century BCE, some 2600 years ago.

     The Torah was given to us on Mt. Sinai over 3300 years ago which is many centuries before the founding of Zoroastrianism.

     Someone is giving your friend false information. Virtually all sources say that Zoroastrianism is clearly dualism and not monotheism and this is why the Muslims destroyed it soon after Islam was founded.

     Also Judaism does not begin with Moshe but much earlier with Avraham, Isaac, and Yacov. With Moshe came the written and oral Torah, but the roots were already in place with Avraham and even earlier with Shem and Ever. Besides the 7 Commandments of Noah, Avraham received the commandment to circumcise himself and the male members of his family, and these mitzvahs are still with us to this day.

     But the main point your friend needs to understand is that all religions in the world except Judaism are based on belief. Whatever he (or she) believes that is his religion and he can change it every day just by getting a different book. But we are not Jews because of our belief. We are Jews because of our mother. We are a people not a religion, and people go by the mother.

     For some very good reason your friend was born a Jew... there are no accidents. We are told that his deeds in his last lifetime caused him to come into this life as a Jew. So even if Zoroastrian would be a valid religion (and I am not saying it is) what does it matter to us? We are Jews so the Torah is our inheritance and it is designed for our particular lives in this world.

     There are a number of serious problems that come when a Jew chooses not to live a Torah life. The greatest for your friend is that if he does not follow the Torah he will most likely not see any need to marry a Jewish girl.  Almost every Jew who strays from a Torah life, he or his children will intermarry and he will have no Jewish descendants. The intermarriage rate in America today is 85%! This is one of the main benefits of keeping a Torah life... there will be a Jewish People in the world… and in your family.

     Tell him that 1 out of 516 people in the world are Jews… a tiny percent of the world population, yet 1 out of 4 Noble prize winners are Jews. And this is what he has come into the world to do... to make a Jewish family, and to help to make the world a better place. When he fulfils his purpose he will live the happiest life.

     I suggest you showing your friends the spiritual aspects of Torah so they will have something to seek other than just following rules.

Let me know what happens.

Keep up your good work.

Gutman

 



[i] "bring closer" to Torah Observance

[ii]  Encyclopaedia Britannica Premium Service, 2005, Zoroastrian Adherents.com (2005), Penguin Dictionary of Religions Penguin Books 1997                

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

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Why?

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   
     Why?

 

     Sometimes you really feel like you have run into a brick wall. You hit your head hard on a wall, or at least it feels like you hit your head hard and you do not know why it happened, or what you are supposed to do about it. You're stuck.

     First thing, patch your head if you have to. Next, thank G-d it wasn't harder. Now, take a wider look at what hit you and try to figure out why it happened. Everything comes for a reason. The Baal Shem taught that everything a person sees comes to teach him something.

     "Did I do something like that to someone else?"

     Is there some direction the incident moved you? Take a wider look and see what might have caused it.

     In the picture here, if you look carefully you will see the tip of one of my shoes on the bottom in the center. See it?

     "Oh, it wasn't a wall after all. It was the ground where I was standing. Okay, now why did I hit the ground like that?"

     Keep looking so you will be able to fix what needs to be fixed so you will not have to fall again.

     All this is just as true for those times when great things happen to you.

     "Why did Hashem give me that wonderful present? What did I do to deserve that? I'd sure like to do that again."

 

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Sunday, January 01, 2017

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Live a Long Life



by Reb Gutman Locks  

 

     He is a doctor in America. When I asked him what kind of doctor he was he answered,

   "The kind you do not want to come see."

    "Uh, Oh! Oncology?" (cancer specialist)

     He nodded his head, "yes"

     "Tell me, what is the one thing I can tell people so they do not have to come see you."

     He said, "Tell them not to live long lives."

     "Come on that can't be what you're saying…that to avoid seeing you they should die young! What is the one thing that they should know?"

     "Tell them not to smoke."

    

What's Wrong with Smoking?

(link

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

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The Four Most Important Days

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

 

     I was invited to be the sandek at my friend's son's bris milah. The infant is placed on the sandek's lap while the boy is circumcised. It is said that all of the good qualities of the sandek are passed onto the boy. It is a tremendous honor to be there for the boy. The spiritual privilege of being a sandek is so great that on this day Hashem blesses all those whom the sandek blesses.

     The day is one of the most important days in the boy's life even though he is way too young to be able to comprehend what happened.

     There are four days in a Jewish man's life that are his most important days of all, and each of these four days is represented in one of the letters in Hashem's most holy Name, Yud Kav Vav Kay  י - ק – ו – ק .[i]

     The first most important day is the day of his bris. This is seen in the first letter of the Name "Hashem", the Yud. The letter Yud is shaped like the place of the bris. This is when his name is given to him. We are told that an angel softly whispers to the parents telling them what the boy's name should be. The name contains and reveals his spiritual mission in life.

     The second most important day is his bar mitzvah, the day he becomes 13 years old. At this age he is considered to be responsible to carry out the Commandments Hashem has given to the Jewish People. This is seen in the second letter of Hashem, the first Kay which stands for understanding.[ii] The boy has reached the age of understanding.

     The third most important day of his life is seen in the next letter of Hashem's most holy Name, the Vav. The Vav is the Yud extended downward. The Vav stands for the day of his marriage when he begins to make his family.

     The final most important day is seen in the ending Kay which stands for judgement.[iii] This is the day of the Jew's passing from this world when he goes before the Holy King for judgement.

     These days sum up the life of the Jew. The Jew has been created to serve G-d. This is our purpose and this is our way. Each of these days are opportune days for the Jew when Hashem pays particular attention to him ready to give him even more as he moves forward to fulfil his purpose.

       


[i] The Name is not spelled as in the Torah to protect its sanctity.

[ii] The Zohar and the Ari

[iii] The Zohar and the Ari

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