Thursday, August 30, 2018

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Curses!


   by Reb Gutman Locks
    Curses!

 

     This week again we read the list of the most horrible curses imaginable. Oy! It is very hard to even read them. Why did, or worse yet, why do such horrible curses come?

     Read what Hashem tells us caused them; All these curses came upon you "because you did not serve Hashem, your G-d, with gladness and goodness of heart…"[i]

     It does not say they came because we did not serve G-d. It says because we did not serve G-d with joy.

     Mitzvahs make us holy. This is exactly what the blessing we say when we do a mitzvah tells us. Surely doing something that makes us holy should also make us happy.

     Have a holy, and happy New Year.



[i]  Deuteronomy  28:47

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

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Where Is G-d?

 
    by Reb Gutman Locks
      Where Is G-d?

 

     A non-Jewish tourist came up to me at my tefillin cart saying he was a Bnei Noah. A Bnei Noah is a non-Jew who keeps the Seven Commandments of Noah. This makes them righteous people, and it gives them a good life in this world and a share in the World to Come.

     I asked him my "test" question. This is the question I almost always ask goiim when they come up to me, "Where is G-d?"

     He immediately answered, "Everywhere!"

     I slapped him on his shoulder and said, "Good for you. You guys are great."

     Virtually every time I ask a x-ian this question he will answer, "In Heaven."

     Then I ask, "Is He in hell?"

     They always answer, "No way."

     Then I point out to them the Psalm that says G-d is everywhere, even in Hell.

     Since they believe that that man of theirs is their god, and according to that myth, he was in his grave for only three days and then "he went to Heaven," they cannot answer that G-d is everywhere.

     If you ask a Hindu this question he might answer, "Which god are you referring to? There are many gods!"

     A Buddhist might answer, "It's your call. Since everything is an illusion, a dream that doesn't really exist, it doesn't make any difference.

     A Jew, and I am happy to say also the genuine Bnei Noah, know that Hashem is Infinite, and that the Infinite by definition, has to be everywhere.  

 

 

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

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When Bad Comes


   by Reb Gutman Locks

 

     Someone came up to me at the Kotel and asked, "What am I supposed to do when bad things come?"

     Moshe Rabbeinu (our teacher) asked the same question in a little different way. He asked, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

     The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything comes to teach us something. He said, "Everything we see, we see for a reason."

     I explained, "Whenever something comes to you, you have to ask, 'Why did G-d send that to me?' Try to see what you did to bring that particular thing to you, and then adjust your ways accordingly. G-d is not cruel. He does not send things just to hurt us. In fact, what we think are punishments really come to correct the way we are going. So what we experience, whether good or bad, has to come as a continuation of the deed that caused it. This means that we can look at the result and see what similar action brought it about.

     Many years ago, very early morning at the Kotel a young American asked me why G-d had someone steal his wallet at the Hostel.

     He said, "They took all my money, $250! I came all the way from America for the Holiday… Why would G-d do such a thing?"

     I said, "Maybe you stole $250 from someone and you had to pay it back?"

     He said, "No Way! I never stole from no one!"

    "Maybe you owed that much in charity that you didn't pay?"

     He went, "OH! Wow!"

     I said, "You are very lucky that Hashem took that from you now when you had it, instead of asking for it after you leave the world, when you stand before the Judge and can't pay it back."

     So it is with everything that comes to us, the good and the bad. It all comes to guide us in the direction that Hashem wants us to go.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

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I’m a Hero!


   by Reb Gutman Locks   
      I'm a Hero!

 

     I hurried out of my apartment on my way to go daven. There was a Mommy with a baby carriage, a tiny girl on one side and a bigger little girl on the other side. They were all looking back down the street at their two "bigger" brothers who were maybe 5 or 6 years old. Mommies take a long time to go anywhere, and this one seemed to be stuck waiting for whatever the boys were up to.

     When I walked by the boys they said something to me while pointing to a tall bush growing next to the building. I couldn't understand their tiny voices, but they pointed again to the bush, and they squeaked whatever it was they wanted.

     I had no idea what the problem was. I looked up at the bush, and I told the boys that I didn't see anything there.

     One of the boys motioned for me to come stand over where he was, and he pointed up at the bush again. I went over and from there I could see a tiny part of their ball that was stuck high up in the bush.

     The boys held out two options for me to choose from, a heavy chain with a lock, or a bicycle tire. I chose the bicycle tire. I threw it up at the top of the bush really hard, but I missed it completely. It didn't come near where I wanted it to go. It hit the wall and fell to the sidewalk. No one was happy. I picked it up and tried again.

    OY! The tire got stuck on the top of the bush. Now the kids lost their ball and their tire, too. Yuck!

     But the bush was still shaking from the tire hitting it… and the tire fell to the sidewalk. Thanks for at least that much. But then, the bush… still shaking a little… and guess what? The ball fell to the sidewalk. Hooray!

     Everyone yelled…happy. The boys grabbed their ball and tire and ran after their Mommy who I could see had a huge smile.

     What a happy moment. B"H, the boys got their ball, Mommy could get the kids home, and I was going to daven right after having done a very nice good deed.

     Making people happy makes you happy. You want to be happy? Go help someone else to be happy…it's automatic.  

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

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Mystical Comments

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Rafael emailed...

Dear Reb Gutman & Reb Akiva,

I've been a regular reader of Mystical Paths for many years and appreciate every holy word you publish. But something very disturbing is happening now, apparently without your intervention: there's a crazy 
commenter that has
 been posting long comments full of kfira, mentioning all sorts of avodah zarah and even stating he's "one of our messiahs" (sic). 

I've checked the link he provided and it's a real salad mixing Judaism with Eastern idolatries and Xtianity - some texts on his blog are really scary! And he calls himself "more than Orthodox" (sic)...

I've tried to warn you by posting on the comments section, but it seems the blog has been left without previous moderation, so anyone may publish whatever he wishes. It's a very dangerous situation that you must correct immediately.

Your precious Torah blog has been used by this crazy person as a high-audience platform to publish his confused pseudo-Jewish blabber who may lead astray many Jews who are ignorant of the pure, non-contaminated Torah.
In summary, I kindly request you to take immediate action and erase all comments made throughout the recent days by this person, and if possible, to block him from his missionary campaign taking advantage of your readers base.

--

Dear Rafael,

Thanks for emailing directly, as well as Reb Gutman for emailing me about the importance of the issue.  I definitely haven't had much time to devote to Mystical Paths in the past year, and had previously loosened comment control as I felt that Google was making it overly difficult to comment.

I agree with you about the comments you pointed out, and a few others as well.

So I have removed anonymous commenting, deleting some questionable comments, and (temporarily) instituted comment moderation.  For those that appreciate commenting on Mystical Paths, I apologize for the overhead and inconvenience this will cause and hope you will push through it and comment.

If I caught anyone's comments in my quick sweep, I apologize for being over zealous.  

Mystical Paths is dedicated to a traditional orthodox halachic Torah approach to Judaism, while discussing it's chassidic, kabbalistic and spiritual and mystical aspects.  Anything out of those bounds will be rejected... which doesn't mean different takes can't be argued.

Thanks for reading!  And may Hashem bless all our readers with a good and sweet year with Rosh Hashana coming soon!
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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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Fences


   by Reb Gutman Locks   
      Fences

 

     Someone asked, why don't we ride bicycles on Shabbos.

     There are a few reasons given for this prohibition, such as bike riding is a weekday activity, or because you may inadvertently ride outside the Shabbos limit, but the most common reason given is that it is a rabbinical fence put up to protect us from falling against a Torah prohibition. The rabbis were afraid if we were to ride bicycles on Shabbos the chain might come off, as they often do, and then we would fix it, and fixing the chain would transgress a Torah based rule of repairing on Shabbos.

     It is the same reason why we do not play musical instruments on Shabbos… lest we break a string and then repair the instrument on Shabbos.

     There are many rabbinical fences that protect us from coming against the actual Torah prohibitions. They are like the Torah's actual physical fence that we are commanded to put on our roof tops even if we never go near the edge of the roof. We are commanded to put a fence there just in case someone might go to the edge and fall and there would be loss of life.

     All of the fences come to help keep us away from transgressing a Torah prohibition, but they also give us someone to argue with, instead of arguing with the Torah itself.

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

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Once in a Lifetime


   by Reb Gutman Locks  

 

     The Jewish marriage ceremony is held under a chuppah (canopy). Then, immediately after the ceremony the bride and groom go into the yichud (seclusion) room to complete the ceremony. Since it is forbidden for an unmarried couple to be alone, the yichud room shows that this couple is now married.

    This groom is maybe 18 years-old and his bride a year or two younger. That is one of their mothers who is about to leave and then they will lock the door to be secluded for the first time.

     What do you imagine is going on in their heads? What will be there first words to each other? Some have the custom first for the groom to ask Hashem to bless his bride, and then the bride asks Hashem to bless her groom. This is the beginning of their life together.

     An amazing moment in life.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

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What to do with an Angel?


   by Reb Gutman Locks

 

     Here's the problem. Before kiddush, Friday night, we sing, "Shalom Aleichem." The Talmud tells us that we are singing to the two the angels who accompanied us home from davening. This seems alright, welcoming the angels… but then one of the phrases says, "Bless me with peace, angels of peace, messengers of the Most High…" Are we really asking the angels for a blessing? Isn't that praying to an angel?

     Because of this question Rav Moshe Feinstein's father skipped that phrase at his table. Rav Moshe was one of the greatest sages in our day, so if his father didn't say it then certainly it seems that there could be a problem with saying these words.

     But didn't Yaacov Avinu (our father) do the same thing when he was wrestling with an angel?[i] He asked the angel to bless him… so how can there be a problem with asking an angel for a blessing? But, we know for a fact that we pray ONLY to Hashem. How can we resolve this problem?

     The renowned Rav Shalom Zalman Auerbach answered the question for us in a most beautiful way. He said, "A Jew is allowed to tell an angel to do its job."

     Hashem sent that angel to give us a blessing, so it is perfectly alright for us to ask to receive it.

     From this we learn the proper way to give a blessing. When a Jew asks another Jew for a blessing, the Jew giving the blessing should not say, "I bless you that …." Instead, he should say, "May Hashem bless you that .…"

     Hashem listens to the prayers of even the simplest Jew, so all proper blessings can be welcomed.

     Hashem bless you.



[i] Genesis 33:27

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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A Great Kid


   by Reb Gutman Locks

A Great Kid

 

      This Israeli was too tough for me. He wouldn't listen no matter what I said.   

     "Come, put on tefillin."

     "No."

     "It doesn't cost money."

     "No."

     "It doesn't hurt."

     "No."

     "Only one minute…"

     "No."

      Finally, I said to the little boy, "Tell your father to put on tefillin. Pull him over."   

     The kid caught on right away. He grabbed his father's hand with both hands and pulled as hard as he could. The boy couldn't move his father, but just lifted his hand and arm a little when he pulled. His father laughed. He pulled more and more, and I pulled the boy, so he would pull even harder.

    The father gave in and I put tefillin on him. He had a good time. He read the Shema and the boy read most of it, too. I had him give the boy a blessing. His wife, the boy's mother, took pictures from where the ladies stand, and she sent the boy's younger sister over so the father would bless her, too. The father told me that it was the boy's birthday.

     I told the boy how good he was and that the mitzvah of his father putting on tefillin was only because of him pulling him. I explained that on our birthdays Hashem listens to our prayers and that he should give me a blessing. He slapped my open hand…a sign of friendship.

     They walked away very happy… the family had a loving time thinking about Hashem and their love for each other... thanks to that great little kid they have.

 

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

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Elul


   by Reb Gutman Locks  
     Elul

 

     The month of Elul is the time to prepare for Rosh Hashanah (the New Year). On Rosh Hashanah we come before the Judge and our portions for the year are set. What we receive is determined mostly by our actions. There is a general principle, mida kenegid meda. It means, "portion across from portion", i.e. what we receive will be formed by what we do.

     In Elul the King is in the field. This means that even the most simple of us can walk right over and talk to the King face to face. This is something we could never do if we had to gain entrance to His palace. The guards would never let us through the gate. What a wonderful opportunity we have.

    The letters that spell Elul are the initial letters of King Solomon's heart felt description of a Jew's relationship with Hashem, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine…,"[i] and this is what we want to take with us as we go through the year.

     Although Hashem is always close to all who call, during the year we tend to forget this, but during the month of Elul we are reminded by the special early morning prayers, the blowing of the shofar, and the excitement that begins to fill the air.

     May each of us receive a most favorable judgement… a year filled with joy and health with all of our prayers answered, and may we accomplish all of our positive goals. And, please G-d, may we become more aware of Your most glorious Presence.     

    Shanah Tovah U'metukah (A good and sweet year)

 



[i] Song of Songs 6:3

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

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Jewish Meditation Explained



by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths





     What is different about
Jewish meditation? Isn’t all meditation the same? What is meditation supposed
to do for you? The technique we use when we meditate will determine the
results.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2018

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Helping


   by Reb Gutman Locks
      Helping

 

      A very nice, young, non-Jewish man from Brazil came to talk with me at the Kotel. He waited several hours for me to arrive. He had what he thought was a major problem, or problems, and he wanted to discuss them with me.

     He said, "I believe that G-d is infinite, but I do not know if I believe in the Torah."

     I told him, "You do not have to believe in the Torah. All you have to know about the Torah is that G-d told Noah to keep the Seven Commandments. The rest of the Torah wasn't given to you."

     He said, "But I want to feel my soul and I do not feel it."

     I told him, "You don't want to feel your soul, you want to become more aware of G-d's presence. You want to become more spiritually aware. The single most effective way for you to become more spiritually aware is for you to help others to know that G-d is one, and that He is infinite… so they stop worshiping idols, limited gods. If you will help others to learn this, G-d will be very happy with you."

     We spoke for some time and I told him over and over again how helping others spiritually was the solution to his spiritual problem. If helping others this way would become his spiritual life's work Hashem would be very pleased with him and treat him lovingly in this world, and in the next World, too.

     Whenever you are down, and you want to pick yourself up, go pick up someone else, and Hashem will surely pick you up.

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Sunday, August 05, 2018

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Is it a Burden?


   by Reb Gutman Locks   
      

Is it a Burden?

     A young Jew from Amsterdam came up to me at my tefillin cart. He said he liked my YouTube videos very much. After a while, he asked me if he should try to bring the Jews he meets in Amsterdam to do mitzvahs.

     He said, "I don't feel to do it because I don't want to burden them."

     I told him, "Because the mitzvahs are a burden to you, you do not want to share them with others. If you knew how wonderful the mitzvahs really are, you would be on the street looking for Jews to share them with."

    This is probably the single most major mistake religious Jews make. When they hear that we are to accept upon ourselves the yoke of Torah they picture a sweaty animal tied to a yoke and straining to pull a heavy load!

     But the simple reality is, the Torah does not come to give us a burden. The Torah comes to take away a burden.

     With or without a Torah life we still have to plough the field of daily living, but without the Torah guiding us our animal instinct tells us where to go… and it drags us along with it looking for all the things that animals like.

     But, when our goals are aligned with Hashem's wishes for us our lives are spent looking for holiness in the physical world. When you serve your Creator, life is a joy… an uplifting experience if you do it right.

 

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Thursday, August 02, 2018

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Yearning


    by Reb Gutman Locks   
      

Yearning

 

     When the First Temple stood the revelation of Hashem's presence would be revealed in the Temple continually, and on the holidays it would increase.

     Even though it was revealed this does not mean that every Jew experienced the revelation. Yes, everyone would notice something different, each according to his or her individual level, but unless the Jew looked for it, they would not see it… almost not at all.

     The same thing happens today, albeit on a much lower level. When we come into a holy place day after day, the awareness of that holiness will either increase or decrease daily. It depends on our desire to experience it. We have to seek the experience in order to recognize it, and obviously, first, we have to do what Hashem wants us to do.

     If we fulfill the commandments with only physical intent, then that will be all we will experience day after day, year after year. We have to look to see the holiness within the commandments.

     King Dovid, the beloved of Hashem, would ask, "How long will You hide Your face from me?"

     We should also be asking this question...lovingly and thankful that we even know to look for it.

 

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