TONIGHT light Chanukah candles followed by Shabbos candles after 6:36pm, then:
Question of the Week:
I fear for the future of the Jewish people. When I look at my family and where they are headed it is not very promising. My grandfather was a rabbi, but I am not sure my grandchildren will even be Jewish. What is the secret to keeping Judaism alive?
I can't tell you how often I hear, "My grandfather was a rabbi." I once read that 87% of the Jewish population today have at least one rabbi in their family tree. I also read that 93% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
It's impossible that three generations ago everyone was a rabbi. What people probably mean is that their grandfather was an observant Jew. He may have had a beard, he prayed every day, and was knowledgeable in Torah. He could have been a cobbler or merchant or baker, not a rabbi. But he was a committed Jew.
Anyone who identifies as Jewish today only need go back three or four generations to find observant Jews in their family. And from there an unbroken chain of observance that goes back three thousand years.
Not that everyone has always been observant. There have always been unobservant Jews. But we don't know their grandchildren. They have been lost to the Jewish community.
Jewishness without Jewish observance cannot last more than a couple of generations. Unless they rebel and turn to Judaism, the children of unobservant Jews will stop being Jewish altogether and assimilate. A family of unobservant Jews will lose one or the other - either the Jewishness, or the unobservance. You can't have both.
This is not a new phenomenon. Throughout Jewish history there have been individuals and groups who tried to keep a Jewish identity without Jewish practice. It has never worked. A vague Jewish ethnic feeling, devoid of any spiritual purpose and with no compelling message that is relevant to life, cannot last long. Only proud and authentic Judaism, that offers relevance and meaning, direction and inspiration, will stand the test of time.
In the Chanukah story, a small band of faithful Jews stood up against the assimilationist forces of Hellenism. They were overwhelmingly outnumbered, not just by the enemy, but among their own people. The vast majority of Jews subscribed to Hellenism, and wanted to assimilate. We celebrate Chanukah today because we descend from the faithful few.
The solution to Jewish continuity is no secret, it's obvious. Living breathing Judaism produces living breathing Jews. Do for your grandchildren what your grandfather did for you - be a living example of what it means to live an actively Jewish life. They don't need their grandfather to be a rabbi, but they need him to be a proud and practicing Jew.
I thought this week I will give you a few fun facts about the piles we are digging. Currently we have dug more than half a kilometre of piles into the ground, using 11 tons of steel and 150 tons of concrete. It has taken us so far 10 days or 50 man days to get this far. G-d willing, our estimated completion date will be Wednesday, 10 January next year.
Today we have had our second delivery of steel, 11 tons of it! It took us approximately 1.5 hours to offload it and bring it on site. Hard hard work!
Have a great weekend everyone and Chag Sameach!!!!
My doctor has prescribed more medication for me, but I am not sure I need it. I sometimes suspect that these doctors give blanket diagnoses and dish out medicine rather than really trying to get to the core of the issue. Does Judaism teach us to trust whatever a doctor says, or should we exercise caution?
Your skepticism may be wise. Or it may be preventing you from getting better.
The Talmud teaches that G-d gave permission to doctors to heal. Having faith in G-d means having faith in doctors and their medicine.
This doesn't mean doctors are infallible. They can make mistakes, misdiagnose, and be lazy like the rest of us. And so while we can assume that most doctors are doing their utmost to help their patients, it can sometimes be prudent to get a second opinion.
The Rebbe often advised people when facing major medical decisions to seek the opinion of a doctor who is also a friend. Like all professionals, doctors can come to see you as just another number. A friend who has medical expertise and also cares for you personally will never view you as a statistic, and have your best interest at heart.
But another advantage of a doctor who is a friend is that you trust them more. Trust is itself an essential element of healing. A doctor you believe in has far greater chance of helping you than a doctor you mistrust, even if they both prescribe the exact same medicine.
So you need to manage your skepticism. Put your faith in G-d, who sends us angels to cure us, in the form of doctors and friends.
At my University a group of students from all faiths and religions, including Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindus, Buddhists meet weekly to discuss many subjects. A recurring question often comes up: "Did man create G-d or did G-d create Man?" What would you have to say on that?
Imagine a new colour. Not a new combination of existing colours, or a shade of another colour, but an entirely original colour that does not resemble any other.
You can't. It has never been done. It is beyond the human capability to conceptualise anything that has no basis in reality. All human creativity is the result of taking existing ideas and rearranging them, using ingredients that are already present and making a new combination. There is nothing completely new under the sun.
Human invention is the mimicking and harnessing of nature. That's why airplanes are modeled on birds, with wings and tails, and cars are built like horses, on all fours with two eyes at the front and exhaust coming out the back. If you look at every human invention, you will find that nothing is absolutely original.
Even in the world of fantasy, human imagination can only invent characters that somewhat resemble real creatures. The most outlandish aliens from the weirdest science fiction stories are no more than overgrown frogmen or human lizards with big ears. The scariest space monster looks strikingly similar to a giant lobster. The wildest imaginations have never been able to dream up an entirely original being. Even fictional characters are based on real life.
This was also true of the gods of ancient mythology. The Babylonian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman deities were all merely exaggerated humans or personifications of forces of nature. It is easy to see how they were man-made, a combination of mortal man's fears and hopes and fantasies. All ancient gods, like all human inventions, were creative depictions of familiar realities.
The only exception to this is the G-d of the Torah. G-d is unlike any creature.
A being that is infinite, above the limits of time and space, who can create something out of absolute nothingness has no parallel anywhere. G-d is the only being that is indescribable and incomparable, unequalled and unlimited. He is not made up of parts, not a combination of characteristics, not a magnified version of some other being. He is totally and utterly original.
No human could have come up with that. Just as we can't invent a new colour that doesn't exist already, we can't invent a new being that has no basis in our reality. So the fact we are aware of an absolutely original being means we didn't make Him, He made us.
We can't create G-d. But we can discover Him. Beyond the frontiers of our perceived reality lies not an army of giant lobsters, but a being that created us with love and purpose. When we have the humility to recognize our limits, we can perceive the unlimited.
1) Piling machinery delivered on site 2) Roadbase delivered for trucks to drive on site 3) Steel delivered for piles 4) Platforms prepared for machinery and pile setup (lines and boundary markings) complete. 5) Drilling to commence G-d willing next week as we are awaiting a new specialized drill bit for machine