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Nixon’s Accusations of Jewish Insecurity
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Lone Soldier Week 7
Lone Soldier

 

The Paradoxes of Oil as a Guide for Living
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The Rock Promoter and the Genesis of the Public Chanukah Menorah
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Why the Tea Party Resonates with Human Dignity
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The Lone Soldier Week 6
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The Lone Soldier Week 5
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Jewish Ingratitude to Christians
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No Gelt, No Glory
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The Lone Soldier Week 4
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A Time to Hate
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The Lone Soldier Week 3
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“My Heart Swells with Joy”
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The Lone Soldier Week 2
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How Obama Lost his Magic
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Rise of the Religious Charlatans
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Rupert Murdoch: The 'Soft War' Against Israel
Rupert Murdoch

 

Do We Still Possess the Power to Choose?
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The Lone Soldier Week 1
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A Spiritual Night in Hebron
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The Religious-Industrial Complex
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Ahmedenijad, Media Rock Star
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As the Economy Crumbles, Obama Makes Middle East Peace.
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When Pastors who Burn Bibles Become Celebrities
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If an American President Were Muslim, Would we Care?
Shmuley Boteach

 

My Purpose in Debating Christopher Hitchens on the Afterlife
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Suicide Bombers in Heaven? Imam Rauf Won’t Say No
Shmuley Boteach

 

Extravagant Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs Humiliate the Jewish Community
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When Psycho Flight Attendants Become Heroes
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Iran’s Descent Into Barbarity
Shmuley Boteach

 

Let the Families of 9/11 Decide the Fate of the Ground Zero Mosque
Shmuley Boteach

 

Time Magazine’s Bizarre Assault on Large Families
Shmuley Boteach

 

Tom Friedman’s Soft Spot for Terrorist Fadlallah
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Kaddafi’s Ship to Gaza, and His Ark in New Jersey.
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What We Lose When We Win
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Al Gore’s Moral Confusion
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Peace and Zealotry
Simon Jacobson

 

Theater review - 'The Adventures of Hershele Ostropolyer'
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What McChrystal’s Firing Says about American Values
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The Rebbe and Viktor Frankl
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Michael Jackson’s Life Could have Been Saved
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The Psychiatrist and The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

BP, Kaddafi, and Britain’s Oil Comeuppance
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Helen Thomas and the Open Season on the Jews
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Did the Lubavitcher Rebbe Con the World?
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Fergie’s Fall
Simcha Weinstein

 

Sderot Report
Noam Bedein

 

Why All The Stress?
Mimi Hecht

 

Obama’s Jewish Charm Offensive
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Jewish Woman’s 10 Commandments
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Is a Giant Mosque at Ground Zero Justified?
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South Park: Seriously Funny
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Mother’s Day for the Childless
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Open Letter to J-Street after their Attack on Elie Wiesel
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Life and Death
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Religion’s Summer of Discontent
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Is Israel Being Stubborn?
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When a Pope Needs Friends
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My Five Cents
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Condemn His Report, But Welcome Goldstone
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What The President Does Not Understand
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A Lesson from Zaidy and Nona
Mimi Hecht

 

Does a Kosher Butcher’s Fraud Mandate a Life Sentence?
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Don’t Kill the Love
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

A Fallible Pope, and Imperfect Church
Shmuley Boteach

 

Obama and the Deafening Silence of American Jewry
Shmuley Boteach

 

Obama's Hospitality: A Question of Character
Shmuley Boteach

 

From Globalism to Parochialism
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Matzah Moms
Mimi Hecht

 

Obama's Bullying of Israel
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A Fashionable Promise
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Why America Has No Chief Rabbi
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Malady of a Maid
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The Human Miracle
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

When Court Jews Defend Moral Cowards
Shmuley Boteach

 

Is it Okay to be Fat?
Mimi Hecht

 

Why America is the Most Depressed Nation on Earth
Shmuley Boteach

 

My Blackberry Baby
Mimi Hecht

 

Never Again !
Shmully Hecht

 

Heads over Heels
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The Death of Conviction
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

How to Deal with Destructive Emotions
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

When You Are Not in the Mood of Your Spouse
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Discovering Your Depth
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

The Consciousness of Freedom
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Ten Ways to Destroy Your Life
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

The Enemy Within
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Are You a Hypocrite?
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

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Embracing e enion
By Yosef Y. Jacobson
 

A little while before he died, a wealthy Jew donated $3 million evenly among a hospital, a university and a synagogue. The only condition was that a representative of each establishment would deposit $1000 dollars in the man's grave at the time of his burial. This would serve as "proff" in heaven of all his charity acts.

The time of the funeral arrived. The hospital president approached the grave, and with a tear in his eye placed $1000 in it. The university president did the same. Then the rabbi wrote out a check for $3000, placed it in the grave and gently removed the two thousand dollars in the grave.

The flood of water

This week's Torah portion describes the 40-day flood that inundated the Earth in the year 2105 BCE (1656 after Creation), drowning all of its inhabitants.

Noach, his family and two members of all animal species survived the flood by means of a massive ark that Noach constructed to shield them from the destruction. 
"There was a flood on the earth for forty days," the Torah relates (1). "The waters increased and raised the ark so that it was lifted above the earth.  
"The waters became very very strong upon the earth, and all the high mountains under the heavens were covered (2)." 
The question we must ask is, what is the relevance of this story in our lives?

The flood of stress

 Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (founder of the Chabad school of kabbalah (3)), in a discourse from 1807 explains the symbolism of the mighty flood waters which inundated the world (4).
These waters represent the currents of anxiety that constitute an integral part of our daily endeavor to earn a livelihood and pay the bills. Just as a flood engulfs and overwhelms anything in its path, so, too, the burden of financial stress and the vicissitudes of the business world may heavily consume our minds and drown our spirits. 
An anecdote is told about a Jew who prays and says, "G-d, if a thousand years to you is like one day (5) and a million dollars to you is like one dollar, just give me one dollar please." All of a sudden he hears a voice that says, "My son, I have decided to grant your request. I will give you one dollar; just wait until tomorrow." 
As we wait for the "tomorrow" to come, the Torah vividly describes the waters of the flood becoming stronger and stronger as they surge in height until they eclipse all of the mountains.
This symbolizes, that as life progresses and our horizons of success expand, the pressures of life merely increase. Even the mountains within us, representing the tall and splendorous spirits we were once proud of, are eclipsed by the surging anxiety stemming from our inevitable entanglement with the crude world of materialism.
There comes a certain point in our life when we just stand back and ask ourselves, what happened to my soul? Where did my mountain disappear? What's the point in all of this?

The verbal island

 The only way to survive the flood in our lives is by constructing an "ark" in which we may find refuge from the deluge.  
What is an ark? The Hebrew word for ark, teivah, may also be translated as
"a word."
 When G-d tells Noach "Enter into the Ark (6)," He is telling him, "Enter into the word." 
Each word of prayer is a mini ark. If you take advantage of it and "enter" into it completely, it will shield you from the tremendous pressures of your daily schedule. Prayer is a verbal island, a transcendental oasis that welcomes man into the serene world of the spirit, allowing him to melt away -- if only for 15 minutes a day -- in the all-pervading presence of the essence of all life.

Why must life be stressful?

Yet moments after we conclude our prayers we are cast out of the ark and into the raging waters of the flood. Emotional and mental serenity remain an unfulfilled dream for most of us. How can we reconcile the two realities - the reality of the spirit coupled with the necessary battle for survival - in our life? 
And why must life be so stressful? Why does the journey of life need to take place amidst a flood, rather than amidst a smooth and peaceful flow of water? 
Here we come to one of the most moving ideas in the philosophy of Jewish mysticism and Chassidism. It is encapsulated in the biblical words mentioned above: "The waters increased and raised the ark so that it was lifted above the earth." 
In the ultimate scheme of things, not only do the raging waters of the flood not drown the ark, they raise it to unprecedented levels of spiritual heights. 
The tension created as of a result of ongoing stress in our lives generates a yearning toward spirituality and G-dliness far more powerful than any we might have experienced in a lifetime of unwavering emotional tranquility. 
This is the deeper meaning behind the Bible's description of the waters of the flood as raising and uplifting the Ark above the earth. The ark of prayer never could be such an elevated and profound experience without the raging floods to propel it to such heights. 

When a human being - bogged down by a myriad of pressures, frustrated by the
void of spirituality in his life, tormented by vicissitudes of his daily condition - tears himself away from the darkness, enters into the ark of prayer and says, "G-d, liberate me from my endless tension!" this person fulfills the purpose for which this stressful world was created in the first place: that it be exploited to fuel a longing for G-d far deeper and truer than any spiritual longing ever experienced on the landscape of paradise.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Footnotes:
1) Genesis 7:17.
2) Ibid. 7: 19.
3) 1745-1812.
4) Torah Or Noach pp. 8-10. This explanation is based on the principle that each story in the Torah contains, in addition to its literal interpretation, also a psychological and spiritual counterpart (see the many references noted in Likkutei Sichos vol. 23 pp. 37-39).
5) Psalms 90:7.
6) Genesis 7:1. 
My gratitude to Shmuel Levin, a writer and editor in Pittsburgh, for his editorial assistance.

Posted on November 3, 2005
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