Menachem Mirski 10 przykazań – część 3 wykład wideo

10 przykazań – część 3

Cykl trzech wykładów Menechama Mirskiego na temat 10 przykazań.

Menachem Mirski jest studentem rabinackim w Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University, Los Angeles, USA

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Menachem Mirski 10 przykazań – część 2 wykład wideo

10 przykazań – część 2

Cykl trzech wykładów Menechama Mirskiego na temat 10 przykazań.

Menachem Mirski jest studentem rabinackim w Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University, Los Angeles, USA

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TRZY KSIĘGI OTWIERA SIĘ W ROSZ HA-SZANA – wykład wideo

TRZY KSIĘGI OTWIERA SIĘ W ROSZ HA-SZANA

Wykład Miriam Klimovej z dnia 19.08.2020.
Ostatni z serii wykładów poświęconych modlitwie prowadzonych przez Miriam Klimovą, studentkę rabinacką Israeli Rabbinic Program at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem, Israel.
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TU BE-AW -OD ŻAŁOBY DO MIŁOŚCI

TU BE-AW -OD ŻAŁOBY DO MIŁOŚCI

Wykład Miriam Klimovej z dnia 05.08.2020.

#אהבה Mówili mi, że w każdym języku brzmi inaczej. Może powód jest taki, że każdy język ma swoją nutę? Choć nie można pozbyć się akcentu, melodię można śpiewać. Oto lekcja (po polsku), w której opowiedziałam o Tu B 'Av – święcie miłości i strasznej traumy, kobietach w białych ubraniach, darmowym tańcu i niebezpieczeństwie kryjącym się za nim, anulowaniu hierarchii, ale tylko rzekomo, i wielka nadzieja na równość i braterstwo.

Kolejny  z serii wykładów poświęconych modlitwie prowadzonych przez Miriam Klimovą, studentkę rabinacką Israeli Rabbinic Program at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem, Israel.
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Polska – Związek Postępowych Gmin Żydowskich nr konta: 47 1240 1040 1111 0010 3311 7066 Bank Pekao S.A. Tytuł: Darowizna na cele statutowe

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Devarim

An atheist’s guide to prayer

Thoughts on parashat Devarim

Menachem Mirski

Prayer is the salient expression of religious emotion and of man’s relationship with God. Presumably every religious person has asked themselves this question: how much prayer do I need in my life and does it make my connection to God stronger? There may be many answers to this question. One analysis may be: I need to make teshuvah, come closer to God and use religion to organize my life because when I let the world rule my life it brought me chaos and suffering and deprived me of meaning. Alternatively one might muse: I need to focus on action, not prayer. I don’t need to spend that much time in the synagogue and I don’t need to pray all the time. I already have learned what I need to know and now it’s time for action!

The Torah portion for this week suggests the latter:

The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying: You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Start out and make your way to the hill country of the Amorites and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, the hill country, the Shephelah, the Negeb, the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and the Lebanon, as far as the Great River, the river Euphrates. See, I place the land at your disposal. Go, take possession of the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to assign to them and to their heirs after them. (Deuteronomy 1:6-8)

The revelation on Sinai is complete. The Israelites have their instructions. Now is the time to go and implement the Divine plan. Notwithstanding, are they commanded to drop spirituality, conquer the land and immerse themselves in practical life exclusively? No, not by a long shot. God will accompany them throughout their mission and beyond. The instructions they received in Sinai clearly state their duties to God, such as obeying his laws, the Sabbath, and making sacrifices to him, etc. Forever, they will be His witnesses and He will be their witness.

It is not uncommon today to hear people explain that they are not religious, but they are ‘enlightened’ or ‘spiritual.’ They explain that they don’t need prayer or even God because, they say, it is enough to ‘live in harmony with the universe,’ thus claiming “the God hypothesis” is redundant. Yes, we all know that prayer alone in life is not enough and that to achieve anything in life action is required. But is prayer really unnecessary? Let’s look at this in practice. Imagine I am up for a promotion at work. I pray to God for it but I also know that my promotion won’t happen without my hard work. So in harmony with my prayers, I work hard to impress my boss. What if I get this promotion? Is it because of God’s blessing or simply a result of my hard work? What if I don’t get the promotion? Was it not God’s will? Taking the argument a step further, if we believe things happen because of God’s will anyway then…. what’s the point of praying? Wouldn’t it better to just work in harmony with the universe and simply reap what we earn?

Let’s consider first two incorrect assumptions about (petitionary) prayer in the argument above. First, the person is incorrectly understanding prayer as a kind of magic, believing that you can influence reality with just words and thoughts and God is just a mere element in the process. Another incorrect assumption is that since we cannot measure the exact impact of the Divine action it doesn’t play any role in the entire process.

Sometimes we indeed have a feeling that we don’t need a prayer to achieve something. The task is clear and everything seems dependent on us. But there are other times where we feel that prayer is a necessary part of the process. In these situations we usually know that the goal we want to achieve is attainable, but at the same time we are aware there may be some obstacles and complications on the way that we will need to overcome. We often don’t know what these obstacles will be and we do know that not everything is dependent on us. That is when we need prayer to ensure us that despite the obstacles, we will achieve the goal.

Now, what about those who don’t believe in a higher power? Why should they pray? It turns out prayer is kind of magical – its superpower lies in its ability to harness the mind. Prayer is a great source of strength and motivation. It’s helpful in getting the right mindset and prioritizing things. By getting into a right mindset and setting priorities properly we avoid procrastination. Prayer prevents us from going astray, from giving up. Prayer continuously ensures us that the goal we want to achieve is worthy and meaningful and all the obstacles we will face will cease to exist and at the end of our journey we won’t even remember them. Prayer, when supported by reason and experience, makes us more cautious, sensitive and prevents us from making obvious mistakes.

Prayer also, amazingly, stimulates self-reflection: why didn’t I achieve this or that? It is often the case that the reasons for which I haven’t achieved something were in fact in me, not in the universe. I thought that the universe conspired against me, but after some time I realized that the main obstacles were in fact in me: in my habits, in my behavior, in my wrong priorities, bad time management, in my hierarchy of values, in the choice of pleasures that I pursued, in my erroneous thinking, in my arrogance, in my lack of faith, in my laziness or ignorance. This life wisdom I achieved was and is facilitated through prayer. Regular prayer helps to eliminate the obstacles within ourselves, obstacles that are often more relevant than the objective challenges that we face. In the context of prayer we also ask ourselves questions about what we have achieved and what we want to achieve. These are important questions at any stage of life and they are questions that should be pondered regularly. Quite simply regular prayer promotes this type of internal analysis.

Prayer also helps tremendously when we experience failure. When this connection is supported by reason and experience it will enlighten the reasons of your failure. You can discover the meaning behind the failure.

Finally, and above all prayer connects you with God and to a moral system around which you orbit. This connection tells you that your life and your goals are not only about you.

By praying we learn to control our internal, spiritual life. Control of our inner life is essential to having true control over our lives in general and the circumstances in which we live. Often things that happen ‘to us’ are, in fact, a combination of both independent objective circumstances and our reactions to them. The more considerable and meaningful are our responses, the more power we gain over the circumstances and their outcome. In this way we expand the borders of our freedom. Through prayer we can come to understand the complexities of the situations we are faced and the positive and negative consequences that ensue.

 

It was a lack of faith and close contact with God that delayed the Israelites’ entry into the Promised Land by 40 years. Thus any call to action should be understood as a call to action with prayer. Sincere prayer improves the quality of our actions and our experience. And every prayer is heard, one way or another.

 

Shabbat shalom!

Menachem Mirski- student rabinacki w Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University, Los Angeles, USA

SMAK TORY

Smak Tory – o znakach kantylacji

 

Wykład Miriam Klimovej z dnia 22.07.2020.
Kolejny  z serii wykładów poświęconych modlitwie prowadzonych przez Miriam Klimovą, studentkę rabinacką Israeli Rabbinic Program at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem, Israel.
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Pinchas

Pinchas

Rabbi Dr Walter Rothschild

I have met Pinchas many times. There seems indeed to be a Pinchas in almost every community I have served! He (or she) is enormously enthusiastic, deeply committed, impulsive, with a tendency to swift and extreme action that is not always thought through properly. They mean well and they know that they are doing God’s work and that God is on their side. Some of them even become rabbis or, at least, people who know that they know more than rabbis do! With the deepest respect, they can also be a pain in the backside.

Actually Pinchas himself was a pain in both the front and back side – for at the end of last week’s sidra (in Numbers 25:6-8) he gets up and on his own initiative spears a couple while they are ‘in flagrante‘ – the Israelite man through his back (he was clearly on top) and the Midianite woman through her belly. The Torah even makes a joke out of it – he goes into the ‘Kubah‘ – a word which only appears here and means a sort of large ceremonial tent – and he spears the unfortunate pair, in their terminal coitus interruptus, through the ‘Kubah‘ – a word which only appears twice in the Torah but here means stomach or belly. The provocation had been extreme – many of the Israelites, who were now living in Shittim, began to take up with the local Moabite women and even to join them in their ritual worship of ‘Baal Peor‘ – presumably the local god of the Mount Peor referred to in Numbers 23:28, where Balak and Bilaam look down on the desert. ‘Peor‘ itself means ‘wide’ or ‘open’. God is naturally angry that the Israelites are following pagan customs – joining in the ritual sacrificial meals of animals sacrificed to the idol of Baal and, especially, joining in the erotic coupling which was apparently intended to symbolise the human-divine relationship in pagan cults.

There are some brief but very violent and brutal verses dealing with the way the guilty are to be punished (25:4-5) – and then at precisely this moment an Israelite (Zimri) chooses to come very publicly, provocatively with a Midianite woman (Cozbi); It is not quite clear which tent they use for their fornication – the Israelites are sitting and wailing at the entrance to the Mishkan, the Tent of Meeting – the ‘Ohel Mo’ed‘. Do this pair actually use the ‘Ohel Mo’ed‘ as the Kubah and the place for their tryst? If so they would be desecrating it – but not as much as does Pinchas who, in his zeal, murders two human beings in hot blood and thus spills human blood within the holy tent…… To put it briefly, the situation is a real mess, a crisis. And this is not counting the political fallout at the murder of a Midianite princess, a chieftain’s daughter.

Maybe this is the reason why the rabbis chose to split the Sidrot precisely here, in the middle of the narrative. To give everyone a chance to get their breath back, to wonder for a week how the story would continue next Shabbat. To calm down.

But the reaction takes one’s breath away. God says to Moses that his great-nephew (for Pinchas is a grandson of Aharon) has done a good job and everyone should be proud of him! Although he is already in the priestly line, his priestly status and that of his descendants is now guaranteed for ever. (Incidentally a Cohen is of course meant to avoid any contact with a human corpse and human blood, which would make him unclean – maybe he was able to use a long spear and avoid getting splashed?) God even says that what Pinchas has done makes him deserving of ”My covenant of Shalom” – ‘Briti Shalom’. God stops the plague.

In Chapter 26 there comes another census, the counting done this time by Eleazar, Pinchas’ father, and this time the intention is to find out how many men of military age (over 20) are available – for none of the young men were alive when Moses and Aharon had carried out the first census in the desert of Sinai – except for Caleb and Joshua. It is indeed time for a change at the top and Moses is commanded to prepare for his own ‘removal from office’ and to appoint Joshua as his successor, with the approval of Eleazar the High Priest. Eleazar succeeded Aharon and Joshua will succeed Moshe – the only difference being that Eleazar was the son of Aharon but Joshua is not related to Moses at all.

In Numbers 31:6 an Israelite army is sent to fight with the Midianites; Pinchas is sent as the first ‘military chaplain’, so to speak, ”with the holy vessels and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand.” He is not armed, this time, with any weapons, only with equipment for the rituals and for communication. Presumably it is felt that he is young and fit and will not be afraid at the sight of blood. Is this a form of promotion or demotion? It is still his father Eleazar to whom the people must bring the booty. The story is an unpleasant one and one must question what role Pinchas really plays in this.

So what is going on? What is God trying to tell Moses, and his nephew, Pinchas’ father? What is he trying to tell the people? That sitting at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and wailing about the situation is not enough, that one must DO something? Take action, even, if necessary, violent action? I think many of us feel uncomfortable with this thought. Judaism is not a form of Pacifism, we understand the need for defensive wars when necessary and it is even a ‘Milchemet Mitzvah‘ to take part in one – in this case, however, the threat against the Israelites is a spiritual one, not a physical one; their beliefs in an invisible, sole God are being challenged by exposure to the delights of pagan polytheism, to material and physical indulgence – this is a desperate situation, certainly, but does it justify a massacre? Unfortunately world history is filled with occasions where one group felt justified in massacring another group simply for holding the ‘wrong’ beliefs and this phenomenon has not yet gone away – here, in these chapters, we find to our discomfort that Jewish history – or better, ancient Israelite history – is not wholly free either of such concepts and incidents.

As Jews we have sometimes – too often – been confronted with the existential question: ‘What are you prepared to die for?’ – and many Jews faced martyrdom rather than baptism, for example. The other side of the same question would be: ‘What are you prepared to kill for?” Hopefully most of us will never be confronted with this in a concrete sense but I recently had a debate with a worshipper in Berlin who did not approve of a prayer for the Israel Defence Forces in the synagogue – ”You might just as well go back to blessing cannons!” he said. I disagreed. There are, at this moment, young men and women whose duty it is to protect and defend – if necessary, and under strict controls and conditions, with violence, with weapons, so that others can continue to live their lives as Jews in (relative) peace. Not because the others necessarily want us to adopt their religion, but because they want us to abandon our own – or see no reason why we should live if we have our specific religion. It is a nasty problem and so far it shows no sign of going away and we see the beginnings already back in the Bible.

Pinchas is NOT a role model for us all but he is a man who takes the initiative to do what he considers to be the right thing. This, at least, we should respect, even if we find his methods too extreme for more ‘normal’ times.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Dr. Walter Rothschild

LUD TWÓJ LUD MÓJ A BÓG TWÓJ – BÓG MÓJ

LUD TWÓJ LUD MÓJ A BÓG TWÓJ – BÓG MÓJ

Wykład Miriam Klimovej z dnia 08.07.2020.
Kolejny  z serii wykładów poświęconych modlitwie prowadzonych przez Miriam Klimovą, studentkę rabinacką Israeli Rabbinic Program at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem, Israel.
Cedaka צדקה
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Polska – Związek Postępowych Gmin Żydowskich nr konta: 47 1240 1040 1111 0010 3311 7066 Bank Pekao S.A. Tytuł: Darowizna na cele statutowe

Zrealizowano przy wsparciu Dutch Humanitarian Fund

Balak

Focus on things within your impact not on your feelings regarding things

Thoughts of Parashat Balak

 

Menachem Mirski

 

 

Technological progress and the speed of information exchange in the modern world has had many advantages. We have at hand basically whatever we need: we can buy almost anything we want within minutes and have it in our hand the next day, we can order tickets to visit countries we have never been and book hotel rooms for when we are there, we can obtain any movie/book/information/knowledge we want immediately. We can even find our life partner without leaving home.

There are downsides. It’s enough to open the news or any of the social media platforms to find information that raises our blood pressure, makes us frightened, frustrated, angry or even depressed and it is not always easy to get over. Depending on the importance of the “bad news” it may take some time until we find our peace of mind again.

In this week Torah portion, Balak, the King of Moab, finds information that disturbs and frightens him. Everything happens after the Israelites pitched tents on the plains of Moab on the other side of Jordan, opposite Jericho:

Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. Moab was alarmed because that people was so numerous. Moab dreaded the Israelites, and Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now this horde will lick clean all that is about us as an ox licks up the grass of the field.” Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor in Pethor, which is by the Euphrates, in the land of his kinsfolk, to invite him, saying, “There is a people that came out of Egypt; it hides the earth from view, and it is settled next to me.” (Num 22:2-5)

Balak persuades the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites so that Balak can defeat them and drive them out of the region. At first, Balaam refuses and sends Balak’s messengers, for he receives a message from God that he cannot curse the Israelites, because God had already blessed them. (Num 22:12) Balak, however, is adamant and sends his messengers again with the same request, offering him various generous gifts in exchange. Then the message which Balaam receives by God is slightly different:

“If these men have come to invite you, you may go with them. But whatever I command you, that you shall do.” (Num 22:20)

But even though Balaam is given a choice to go with Balak’s messengers to fulfill his requests God becomes incensed and sets everything at odds with this plan. On the way, Balaam is berated by his donkey, who sees the angel of God blocking their way. When Balaam finally arrives at the designated place, on the border of the country, from which he is able to see the Israelites and curse them, he attempts to pronounce his curses three times, from three different vantage points. Each time, instead of a curse, he pronounces a blessing and prophesies that Israel’s enemies will be defeated. (Num 23-24)

As we know, the Torah places no faith in divination or magic. In this particular story the Torah makes even a stronger point: if we curse someone, not only will it not bring the effect we expect, but it will bring the opposite effect. The message of this story serves to strongly discredit superstition and belief in magical practices. Additionally, the figure of Balak is showing us vividly what happens to people who believe in that kind of practice: they only get more frustrated and angry as they observe that their actions are actually counterproductive. But that’s not all. Each element of this story is designed to sober up the man involved in that kind of irrational practice. It’s hard to express it more clearly than by putting criticism in the mouth of a donkey:

Then the LORD opened the ass’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?” Balaam said to the ass, “You have made a mockery of me! If I had a sword with me, I’d kill you.” (Num 22:28-29)

It was a sobering experience for Balaam who a moment later admitted that he had erred. He who was the seer and prophet, who claimed to probe the mysteries of time, could not even see what his donkey had seen. That was not the end of the story, for the futility of these practices had to reach everyone (this is, in general, a typical feature of biblical narratives). The will of the Supreme One will prevail over magical rites – no matter how multiplied they are (like building seven altars and sacrificing animals on them, Num 22:40-41.) Israel was to prosper – it was the Divine decree.

This message was also aimed to reach us. Despite the fact that most ‘modern’ people do not believe in magical practices and their effectiveness, we often do, instinctively or subconsciously, get involved in them. If something does not go our way, if someone or something constantly works against us, we get frustrated, angry and we curse. It’s a typical, psychological mechanism. If we curse someone or something we don’t like, it may give us a temporary relief, but it has no effect on the objective reality in which the things we curse exist. In fact, as in our biblical story, it often has the opposite effect: by cursing something we waste our time and energy instead of doing something productive. We emotionally and mentally get stuck in the situation we don’t like and we don’t move forward. We just wrestle in our minds with obstacles that may be impassable or often not even real. Ultimately it can have a negative impact not only on the situation in which we are, but also on our mental health.

To what extent it is dependent on me? – That’s a question we should consistently ask ourselves. We shouldn’t spend too much time or energy on things that are beyond our impact. Instead, we should keep our minds and senses open, because the world around us (or God Himself) often teaches us what is within our reach and what is not. The universe usually does not send us this message through “the lips of the talking donkey,” but such extreme situations do occur. If you suddenly encounter unexpected obstacles, think twice and reconsider your actions. Are the goals you set really worthwhile? Because it is possible that if you prevail, the outcomes may be the opposite to those you expect.

Thus, focus on those things and matters on which you have an influence: your everyday relationships with people, your everyday work and your duties. Focus on things in your close environment where you can do good or make a desired change. I’m not saying “don’t be idealistic” or only “focus only on immediate matters.” You can have and you indeed have an impact on things that belong to the distant future. If you can imagine a realistic plan on how to achieve them then the path to their implementation is open.

However, if you’re angry, pissed off, frustrated, try not to escalate. In these moments think about what you can do for others. Maybe your brother / mother / friend / colleague / partner needs help? Maybe you forgot something someone else had asked you for?  Do something good, something useful – here and now. Instead of hitting your head against the wall and complaining that the world is not what you think it should be – do something good and useful. Nobody promised that life would be beautiful and painless. The world in which we live is built from the bricks and mortar of our daily good deeds. Add at least one or two bricks before you blame your friend, co worker, partner, the system or society.

Shabbat shalom,

 

Menachem Mirski- student rabinacki w Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University, Los Angeles, USA

KOBIETY W MYKWIE

KOBIETY W MYKWIE

Dlaczego i kiedy?

Wykład Miriam Klimovej z dnia 01.07.2020.
Kolejny  z serii wykładów poświęconych modlitwie prowadzonych przez Miriam Klimovą, studentkę rabinacką Israeli Rabbinic Program at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem, Israel.
Cedaka צדקה
PAYPAL paypal.me/BeitPolska Beit
Polska – Związek Postępowych Gmin Żydowskich nr konta: 47 1240 1040 1111 0010 3311 7066 Bank Pekao S.A. Tytuł: Darowizna na cele statutowe

Zrealizowano przy wsparciu Dutch Humanitarian Fund