What is the difference between a rabbi and a Rebbe? I have been reading up on the Rebbe and he was obviously a great man. But what makes someone a Rebbe and not a regular rabbi?
There are many differences, too many to list here, but one is this: A rabbi answers questions, a Rebbe answers people. A rabbi hears what you say with your mouth, a Rebbe hears what you are saying with your soul.
I'll explain what I mean.
A teenage boy once asked the Rebbe, "Do we believe in reincarnation?"
The Rebbe's answer was short and cryptic:
"Yes we do believe in reincarnation. But don't wait until then."
This seems a puzzling response. Wait until when? The boy asked a simple enough question, which could be answered with a yes or no. What did the Rebbe mean by "don't wait until then"?
I think the Rebbe was responding to something more than the technical question. The Rebbe knew how to answer the person, not the question. Most of us respond to a question posed to us. The Rebbe would respond to the person behind the question. With his insight he would identify where the question is coming from, and address the underlying issue rather than just the one presented.
When this boy asked about reincarnation, he was not asking about some abstract theological concept. He wanted to know if this lifetime is all there is, or there is more. The possibility of reincarnation changes the way we look at life. We were here before, and so some of the events that happen to us now may be leftovers from a previous life. And we may live again, which means that we get another chance to complete unfinished business from this lifetime in the next.
This seems to be what the Rebbe was warning the young boy. Reincarnation doesn't mean procrastination. Don't use it as an excuse to put off to your next life what you need to achieve in this life. Indeed we believe in the re-embodiment of the soul, which means we believe in second chances. But maybe this life is the second chance. Don't leave it to next time.
This is the power of a Rebbe. A regular rabbi, when asked such a question, would start quoting mystical sources and explaining complex doctrines. But the Rebbe, in a ten second exchange with a teenage boy, taught a practical and comprehensive worldview. Live this lifetime as if it's your last. You may have past lives, and you may have future lives, but don't wait until then. Do it now.
GIMMEL TAMMUZ COMMUNITY WIDE FARBRENGEN ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CLASSES IN RECESS - NEW TERM STARTS IN THREE WEEKS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NEFESH SERVICES - 54 Roscoe St Bondi Beach
4:50pm Mincha followed by shiur
6:30pm - 7:15pm Shabbos Service
followed by Kiddush sponsored anonymously in honour of the Rebbe's Yorzheit.
9am Class on Weekly Parsha 10am -12:15pm Morning Service with Kid's program sponsored anonymously followed by Gimmel Tammuz lunch generously sponsored by: Anonymous, Daniel Doctor, Ata Gokyildirim, Daniel Lowinger, Ronan Lutman, Daniel Miller, Justin Rosenberg & Michael Singer.
Farbrengen after lunch until Mincha
Mincha 4:35pm followed by Seudah Shlishis and Maariv, and special 10 minute video presentation
Shabbos ends 5:38pm
Sunday July 3
Rosh Chodesh Tammuz
8am Shachris followed by beginners Talmud and breakfast
My partner says I should spend more time chilling out, relaxing, and just enjoy life. And that I should do stuff purely for entertainment/leisure value.
I'm the kind of person who does things to improve myself (really, not my imagination).
Everything I do is for the purpose of education or self improvement. All I ever do is read self help books, learn Torah insights, watch lectures, or listen to them.
Apparently that's my problem. I take life too seriously.
What do you reckon?
There is no question that Jewish wisdom abhors time wasting. "The day is short, and we have a lot of work to do," say our sages. The Talmud warns, "Remember that the day of death approaches," which Chassidic masters explain to mean, "Remember that each day dies and never returns. Don't waste even one day."
And then there is the famous saying:
"People worry about losing money, but don't worry about losing time. Yet money can't save you, and time can't be recaptured."
Clearly, we are in this world to achieve. And yet, there is a concept of meaningful rest. Sometimes we do need to chill out. This is not necessarily a waste of time. We are much more effective after resting. Just like we need to sleep to be able to achieve more when we wake up, we need to have down time so our minds can be more focused and energies replenished to get on with our mission.
Not that we should do things that will lower our moral standards, but we can sometimes just chill, take a walk, read something light, go to the zoo, fly a kite. This will refresh us and lead to more productivity. Not learning Torah is sometimes the best way to promote learning Torah.
If your reluctance to waste time comes from a true desire to serve G-d, then you have nothing to fear from relaxation. For that is serving G-d too.
But if something else is driving you, if it is psychological rather than spiritual, then this avoidance of time wasting may not be such a good thing at all. It could be compulsive, or an attempt to prove your worth by always achieving something, or an aversion to sharing time with others, or a fear to really face yourself. Ironically, addiction to self help can be a great way to avoid facing your real self and caring for others. There is nothing holy about that.
This has very recently been dubbed the shark syndrome. Sharks constantly swim through the water, even when they are asleep, because if they don't they will sink to the ocean floor and die. Perhaps you are scared the same will happen to you. If you stop for a minute, you will fall apart.
You are not a shark. You are a soul that needs to achieve its purpose. We do this through meaningful work, and meaningful rest too.
Rabbi, do you think we are too flooded with information these days? No matter where we are, we are online, contactable, and never alone. You used to have to go and check your mail in your letterbox once a day. Now you can check your email on your phone every two minutes. Is this a good thing?
Sent from my iPhone™
That's a great question. I will have to think about it. I will get back to you with an answer soon.
I don't pray every day. Sometimes I'm not so sure that I believe in G-d enough to pray. I just don't think I can have the unwavering faith that people like you seem to have. I'll never be so sure. Can you pray and be a good Jew if your faith is unsteady?
To be a Jew means to struggle. The very name Israel means "one who struggles with G-d". Faith is not a light switch that you turn on and it stays on. Faith is a fire that you need to tend and fuel, and sometimes rekindle. It is a wrestle that never ends.
There are days that your faith shines through and everything fits into place. On these days, you feel at one with yourself and G-d, and prayer comes naturally. Then there are days that you wake up and it is all dark, your faith seems to have dried up. G-d, soul, prayer, goodness all seem like annoying insects buzzing in your ear, and you just want to just roll over and go back to sleep.
But even on those days, you have to find the motivation to get up and get on with it. Perhaps your faith won't get you out of bed, so how about trying another approach. Putting aside your faith in G-d, what about G-d's faith in you?
There is a powerful prayer that we say as soon as we wake up in the morning:
I give thanks to you, Living and Eternal King, for You have returned my soul to me with kindness. How great is Your faith.
The faith referred to here is not our faith in G-d, but rather G-d's faith in us. The very fact that we have woken up is proof that G-d believes in us. He knows that we are not perfect, is well aware of our failings and knows the mistakes we have made. And yet, in the morning after our sleep He returns our soul to us, and gives us another chance, because He trusts us. He has faith in our ability to change and make today a bit better than yesterday. We may or may not believe in Him, we may or may not believe in ourselves, but G-d believes in us.
Humans are fickle, G-d is constant. His faith in us is firm and unchanging, even if our faith in Him is shaky. That's the faith of an Israelite, one who struggles with G-d. We may be struggling, but we are struggling with G-d - He is always there.
If you woke up this morning, if your soul was returned to you to see another day, then give thanks. Start your day with a prayer, if not out of your faith in G-d, then at least out of G-d's faith in you. He trusts you enough to give you a precious soul. Use it.
Judaism doesn't do it for me. To be honest I don't understand what you see in it. I've been there done that, and it's not for me. What do you say to people like me who simply are not inspired by Judaism?
You remind me of the story of the poor man's cheese blintzes.
A poor man was once walking the streets, feeling hungry, when he was struck by a delicious aroma. From out of the kitchen window of a huge mansion wafted the smells of a rich man's breakfast. Looking through the window, he watched carefully as the cook mixed the ingredients and prepared a pile of cheese blintzes. He had never seen or smelled anything so appetizing in his life.
He ran home and told his wife, "We must have some cheese blintzes for breakfast. They are delicious. Can you make me some? All we need is French pancake mix, milk and eggs, some butter to fry them in and cheese for the filling."
"Certainly my dear husband," the kind woman replied. "I will whip up the best cheese blintzes anyone ever tasted."
But when she looked into her pantry for the ingredients, she was greeted by empty shelves. An industrious and resourceful woman, she wasn't phased. "We will have to be a bit creative," she thought to herself. "I haven't got any French pancake mix, but a little potato flour should be just as good. We are a little low on milk. I'll just use water. Eggs.... I don't have any eggs, but I can throw in a few potatoes. We certainly can't afford butter for frying, but I have some old oil that I used last week, I am sure it can be used again. And cheese costs a fortune these days. We will have to settle for some mashed potatoes instead of cheese, that will be close enough."
In no time the delicious breakfast was ready, a pile of home made cheese blintzes. The good wife brought them before her excited and grateful husband, who eagerly bit into the first cheese blintz he had ever tasted in his life. After chewing for a while on the first blintz, his face turned from eager anticipation to bitter disappointment.
"I have to be honest," he said, "I don't really get what those rich people see in cheese blintzes. They really are nothing special...."
The Judaism you have tasted is about as authentic as those cheese blintzes. You may think you have been exposed to the Jewish way of life. After all, you sat through a year of bar mitzvah classes, crept into the back row of a synagogue on Yom Kippur every a year and even spent three months on a kibbutz in Israel when you were 19.
This is all very nice. But these are not the ingredients for a true Jewish experience.
If you have never racked your brain over a page of Talmud; if your soul has never been touched by the deeper meanings of the Torah; if you have never felt the embrace of a warm and spiritually committed community; if you have never experienced the peace and holiness of keeping a Shabbos fully and correctly, then you have never had a taste of real Judaism.
Enough of the cheap imitations. Go eat a genuine cheese blintz.
SHAVUOS ALL-NIGHTER AT NEFESH ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Celebrate the giving of the Torah at our all night learning program. Come for part or come for the whole night, there will be coffee and cake and plenty of inspiration
First night Shavuos, Tuesday June 7 at Nefesh, 54 Roscoe St Bondi Beach
9pm - 9:45pm Tales of Another World with R' Aaron Amzalak
10pm - 10:45pm Hair! - a mystical study of locks, tresses, curls and manes with Rabbi Moss
11pm - 11:45pm Souls that Were Never Lost
the surprise resurgence of Jewish identity in Europe today
with international guest speaker Zev Nagel
Former speechwriter for Ambassador Dan Gillerman at the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN, Zev was recently appointed by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee as one of the Ralph I. Goldman Fellows in International Jewish Service. As a Fellow, Zev will serve in multiple locations around the world, and is currently in the midst of his first placement in Budapest, Hungary.
1am - 2:30am Guided Talmudic study - hands on grappling with a text
2:30am - 4am Ask the rabbi - you won't believe what comes up at this time of night
4am - 5am Short speeches from community members (more volunteers needed)
Meet the Artist Saturday June 18
NEFESH SERVICES - 54 Roscoe St Bondi Beach
4:45pm Mincha followed by shiur
6:30pm - 7:15pm Shabbos Service followed by Kiddush sponsored by Sheli Hersch in honour of her brother Des Fleisch's Yorzheitz"l - long life
9am Class on Weekly Parsha 10am -12:15pm Morning Service with kids program followed by Kiddush cosponsored by John Edmonds in honour of his birthday and Jocelyn Lowinger in honour of her starting a new job - Mazel Tov!
Mincha 4:30pm followed by Seudah Shlishis sponsored by Mrs Hilda Meyer in honour of the Yorzheit of her brother Shlomo ben Reuben z"l
Shabbos ends 5:38pm
8am Shachris followed by beginners Talmud and breakfast
Monday and Thursday
7am Shachris followed by Chassidus
Tuesday June 7 (candlelighting 4:35pm)
Mincha 4:45pm followed by drosha, Maariv 5:30pm
Wednesday June 8
Morning Service 10am-12:30pm
DON'T MISS READING OF TEN COMMANDMENTS AT 11AM, ICE CREAM PARTY FOR KIDS
followed by dairy lunch sponsored by Mark van der Vyver and Renee Freedman to welcome the Nagels to Sydney - all welcome
Mincha 4:45pm followed by drosha, Maariv 5:30pm (candlelighting after 5:34pm)
Thursday June 9
Morning Service 10am-12:30pm (Yizkor 11:30am) followed by Kiddushsponsored by Rev Daniel Miller in honour of his father's Yorzheit and Michelle Brenner in honour of her birthday