Monday, September 24, 2007

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My Upshernish!

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

At 3 years of a life, (it's a custom among chassidim and many orthodox Jews), a young boy is given his first haircut. Just as (most) trees don't give fruit for their first years, a child begins his real mitzvah education and performing of mitzvot at 3 years. In Yiddish, this event, a festive occasion, is called an Upshernish.

My Ashes Chayil (my lovely wife) came to me tonight and announced, "It's your blog's Upshernish!". 'What are you talking about?' I replied. She said, "It's 3 years ago, before Succot, that you started blogging, it's your Upshernish!".

So, while there are no long locks to be cut, I'll celebrate with some special words of Torah. Further, some flies came by to remind me, we must busy ourselves with Torah, whether the location is virtual or physical matters not. The words of our G-d endure forever... And with that, I celebrate 3 years of being honored to share a few words of Torah and thoughts about the Holy Land...

The Alter Rebbe, the first grand rabbi of Chabad Chassidus, HaRav Shneur Zalman of Liadi, wrote in his monumental work on the path of life for the intermediate man, Tanya, chapter 38... (abbreviated for blog presentation) ...

(it has been laid down) that meditation is not valid in lieu of verbal articulation, so that if one has recited the Shema only in his mind and heart, even with the full force of his kavanah (concentration), he has NOT fulfilled his obligation, and he is required to recite it again [orally]... if he has uttered them with his lips but did not intend with his heart, he has fulfilled his obligation bideved... except for the first verse of the Shema and the first bracha of the Amidah...

The reason is that the neshamah needs no tikun (mending) for herself by means of the mitzvot, but has only to draw forth light to perfect the vivifying soul and body by means of the letters of speech which the nefesh pronounces.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the first and only grand rabbi of Breslov Chassidus, wrote in his monumental work of direction for life, Likutei Mohoran, 4.1... (abbreviated, but commentary added, for blog presentation) ...

When a person knows that everything that happens to him is for his benefit, this perception is a foretaste of the World to Come (Olam Haba). As King David said, "When he is Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay (commonly translated as The Lord) I will praise His word, when He is Elokim (commonly translated as G-d) I will praise His word".

And this perception is a foretaste of the World to Come, as our Sages taught: "On that day G-d shall be one and His name one." They asked: Is He now not one? And answered, At present, the blessing "Who is good and beneficent" is recited over good, whereas "the true judge" is recited over bad. But in the future, it will be entirely "Who is good and beneficent".

Commentary by Rabbi Chaim Kramer... Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay is the holy name that connotes divine compassion. Conversely, Elokim connotes divine justice and judgment. Rebbe Nachman teaches, when a person knows that the bad that befalls him is in fact for his good and that its source is ultimately the name Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay, the divine attribute of compassion, then for him there is no difference between compassion and justice...The person who is capable of perceiving all of life this way essentially has a taste of what it will be like in the World to Come...

Interestingly, I think these two lessons go together. If one is meditating on ones situation, spending ones time worried about the good and the bad, then one is not fulfilling ones obligations and indeed, one will become focused on the judgments in ones life and worried about the bad. If one spends enough time focused this way, one not only doesn't get a taste of Olam Haba (the World to Come, they get a taste of Gehonim (Hell)!

Whereas, if one is focused on fulfilling ones obligations, one is constantly striving on connecting to the King, the King of Kings, HaKodesh Baruch Hu, then both the good and the apparent bad are all ways and opportunities for connecting to Hashem, which is only good, and indeed, one gets a whiff of Olam Haba, where the connection is complete.

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