Reflection or Deception?
The worldly path manifested outside of G-d’s Instructions creates distortions that could lead people stumbling into darkness. The Creator looked into the Torah and created the world; man looks in the Torah and sustains the world. We are called to be Hashem’s Light to the world to take the Torah to the Nations. There are many obstacles and attractions that become distractions from G-d’s Divine word. Social media, certain music, movies and sitcoms can feed man’s desires (Nefesh/ flesh) that take precedence from living in Torah when we lose focus, lacking wisdom and discernment. These desires can sometimes mirror images of the beast. When we are not careful to exercise wisdom, a snare will entangle us without being detected. We are to be diligent, and a reflection of Hashem’s Goodness—shining Hashem’s light.
It’s important to be under our Father’s covering and to be obedient to Torah. When we choose differently, false securities (idols) are created that are not beneficial to our well-being, physically or spiritually. Unfortunately, people can fog their thoughts in daily living with self-seeking cravings. There are two directions to go: the lighted holy path of the Torah that leads to life that’s eternal, or self-direction, opposite of Torah that leads to destruction. We were given “free will” and it’s up to us what kind of manager we will be. Of course, there’s forgiveness with opportunities to make a U-Turn, but will we?
The good news is many Jews are returning to Torah. They want to have teshuvah (returning to Hashem in repentance), to be Torah Observant and walk in obedience by observing Shabbat/Shabbos and the festivals. The Non Jews are becoming interested in the festivals, and they are asking questions pertaining to Judaism. A big awakening is taking place. We are reminded in Jeremiah 31:32-33 when G-d made a covenant with us, He placed His Torah (law) in our minds and wrote it on our hearts. This is the covenant Hashem sealed with the House of Israel. All will come to know Hashem from the smallest to the greatest. Hashem loves and welcomes everyone to come to Him, but Hashem allows us to decide our eternal fate. In love, we are to bring Torah to the Nations, teaching by example. Teaching includes application.
We are called to be overcomers, in doing so; we will have to climb that mountain in our wilderness—leaving our Egypt behind. There will be many distractions and obstacles to overcome, thankfully, with faith (Emunah) and trust in Hashem, He will light our path. It will seem lonely and difficult when we enter our wilderness; however, Hashem is waiting to have a one-on-one intimate time with us for our personal spiritual growth. Hashem desires to reveal more of Him. When Hashem is quiet and it seems as though He isn’t listening, we need to remember Hashem will never leave us nor lead us astray.
Time is precious and valuable. It can’t be given back once spent. The world is very good at keeping us preoccupied with our own yearnings that become justifications. One of the main excuses we tend to fall into is that we’re too busy to study, or too tired. Evil Inclination loves to keep us busy. A good friend of mine, Angie, states it best in an acronym (BUSY): (B) Being (U) Under (S) Satan’s (Y) Yoke. Now to be clear, there are times when rest healing is needed, especially when it’s a medical situation. There are also individuals, and families, who have children with special needs that contend with irregular daily/nightly hours. We do our best. Hashem knows the desires of our heart; His heart is pierced with ours. He will always help us. It’s important to never feel defeated. We just have to keep getting right back up.
We cannot serve other g-d’s (Deuteronomy 6:14-16). Our soul is confused with a divided heart. The confused soul is like a beast without boundaries. The Nefesh is a bundle of appetites, desires, and intellect. Will our treasures we invest in be eternal? A divided heart will rule over its soul and its possessions. The human heart has four chambers. Day Four in Creation is to govern. What will our hearts “govern” in this lifetime? “Time and Money” are crucial areas man will invest in. To become divided is a separation cut into two parts. Day Two in Creation is the separation of the upper (heavenly) and lower (earthly) waters.
“And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, And a twig shall grow forth out of his roots. 2And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and might, The spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. 3And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord; And he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, Neither decide after the hearing of his ears.” (Isaiah 11:1-3 Jewish Publication Society 1917)
The seven spirits placed upon the Menorah in its proper order for its purpose and function, the second spirit of G-d is “Understanding.” Our investments in life are either eternal or temporary of this world. If we don’t seek Hashem’s wise counsel we are bankrupt of understanding.
The key factor is: we need to keep things in its proper perception, and not get caught up in areas that become a snare (sin) that pulls us away from Torah. We must be diligent and make that choice to place Hashem first in our lives. Without Hashem’s Breath of Life we are nothing. His Breath (Ruach) is life, and His Light (Torah) is a lamp unto our feet that leads the way. If we will not walk in Hashem’sTorah, we are in direct disobedience (willful sin); and essentially, choosing a different path that leads to our destruction—death. “A road may seem right to a man, but in the end it is a road to death.” (Proverbs 16:25)
Individuals are becoming desensitized by self-deception. Some people feel as though they have to “fit-in” in order to be accepted. We can become hesitant to mention our beliefs to not offend others. Man’s agendas are becoming more prioritized because of man’s EGO. The ego of man pushes Hashem out by “Edging G-d Out.” When our ideals and desires come before keeping and guarding Torah, or reciting daily blessings and prayers, we have chosen to edge/ push G-d out and positioned ourselves above Hashem. No one is exempt from falling into deception, a sickness of lies from the accuser—hasatan! When a person says “G-d knows my heart…” that is a true statement. However, we are the manager of our hearts, thoughts, words and actions. How is our personal management going?
“The heart is the most deceitful of all, and it is fragile–who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
The path we walk should be in the Light of the Lamp—His Torah of Truth.
“Make your Your ways known to me, HASHEM; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the G-d of my salvation, to You I have hoped all the day. Remember Your mercies, HASHEM, and Your kindness, for they are eternal” (Psalm 25:4-6)
Hashem has an incredible love for His Children. He will light the way of truth with His righteousness. Hashem wants us to cast our burdens on Him. Hashem’s love is indescribable. His mercy is incredible. There comes a time in our spiritual growth to take that step upwards, to walk in Hashem’s truth; turning away from distractions that keep us from studying Hashem’s word. Living Torah is a change in our lifestyle; removing any distorted beliefs and/or wrongful attitudes that taint our walk in Torah.
It’s time to make a decision to step outside of our comfort zone. We need to step away from the crib that holds us captive to live in obedience, fine-tune our priorities, adjust our attitudes, have a heart’s desire to follow Torah, love and forgive others, breathe life (not death) in our words, and lift each other up for the Kingdom of G-d.
We need to completely rely on Hashem for our provisions, and trust that Hashem can help us stay on the path of Light. We place ourselves on a slippery slope with an open invitation for the Adversary when we begin to justify our reasons to live outside of the Dvar (word). We cannot continue to disobey the Torah and expect a good outcome, eternally. When Hashem sends a messenger it’s the perfect time to listen, and encompass His ways, changing ours.
Let’s dig a little deeper in Numbers 22:
- The she-donkey saw the angel of HASHEM and crouched beneath Baalam. Balaam’s obstinateness deterred him from seeing an angel standing in front of him. Hashem removed that blindness so Balaam could “see”.
- Balaam’s anger flared and he struck the she-donkey with the staff. Baalam was so pompous and agitated with pride he hit and yelled at a talking donkey for refusing to obey his orders. Blinded to self-deception, he was unable to see any miracles. Self-deception is arrogance that ignores godly counsel.
- Balaam said to the angel of HASHEM, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing opposite me on the road. And now, if it is evil in your eyes, I shall return.” Hashem already told him not to go. Balaam twisted what G-d said. Self-deception justifies finding exceptions for self-will.
- Balak was fearful of Israel. Many today are fearful of G-d’s Chosen people (the spirit of Amalek is in every generation).
We need to evaluate our attitudes, words, and thoughts. Self-deception places us in bondage when godly wisdom is ignored with actions justified, and will remain unteachable by not listening to Good Counsel. To remain passive (self-satisfied/complacent) to Torah is sin, spiritual adultery. One should never selfishly seek undeserved entitlement from others for personal gain. However, when we break something, or harm others (accidently, or willfully), there’s an accounting of restitution to be made.
Our identity is found in Hashem by how we relate to others—character traits. A good character trait is thankfulness. When we are thankful for what Hashem has provided, gratitude leaves little “wiggle room” for bitterness to sneak in. A good friend of mine visits third world countries. She shared in a letter about an individual who had lived in a cardboard house. With permission given, she wrote, “We went to Sabana Grande in the mountains one day and spoke with Angela now living there with her family. She grew up with her mom in a casa de carton, a cardboard house, and she always gives thanks to G-d for taking her out of such poverty.” I sat back in my chair contemplating the gratefulness of this person. I took that thought by contrasting it to the expectations of American kids today. While “Angela” lived in a cardboard box home, “Sally” expects the newest iPhone and a new car given to her. As mentioned, it really does come down to a heart matter.
The Torah is a mirror that removes the distortions from man’s concepts. A person who does not remain in the teachings of the Torah is a poor marksman. His eyes deceive him. His ears have deafened.
The world seeks to devour Hashem’s Light with corruption by removing the validity of morals and values. Hashem will not allow His Light to be removed or put out. As long as there is at least one person on the earth believing in G-d, following Torah, life remains. Abraham was the first Jew. He didn’t use his circumstances if life by living in a pagan environment to determine his choices or future. He knew there was something more than what his home life offered. He set out to seek Truth—Emet. And so should we.
Doron Kombluth has a video on Jewish.tv “Raising Kids to Love Being Jewish.”
Our desire for our children/grandchildren is to keep them Jewish. Kombluth shared five key principle factors that are paraphrased below:
- Role Models of parents/Grandparents: The Jewish identity our children/grandchildren are learned from the role models of their parents. An example of everyday living as a Jew is to let our children see us doing good things for the Jewish community. Giving Tzedakah. Another good example is to have our home environment show we are Jewish (Jewish books, Mezuzah, Star of David, Shabbos candles, Menorah, etc.). Children need to see their parents reading Jewish literature, walking the walk. Family dinners are crucial as it keeps a home stronger within–building memories. That means all books, papers, and devices are to be kept from the table and actually talk to one another over a meal together. Investing in our family is key. Family should be valued, not left overs.
- Get our children/grandchildren involved in Jewish activities: We invest in our children by teaching them to care about being Jewish. We need to teach them how to choose the right friends and activities that do not conflict Jewish upbringing. We are to encourage our children to be involved in a Jewish lifestyle: Trips to Israel, Chabad activities, Jewish holidays, Shabbos; even if it’s one thing they can invest in such as a reading for the Festivals or family readings. By getting our kids involved, they will “own it,” and be willing to hold on to their Jewishness. This is love shown.
- Sense of belonging: A very powerful concept for our children is for them to know they belong to their Jewish people, their Torah, their holidays, and their foods. Pesach (Passover) Haggadah, the “Four questions” are asked by the children. This should remind us that we are not individuals, we are a community. We are connected to all Jews—past, present, future. When our people are attacked, we are attacked. We need to have a sense of belonging to our people.
- Jewish Education: Jewish educated children have stronger ideals of being Jewish. We live in a different generation. We need to be more active and involved in their lives; helping them incorporate Jewish things into their daily lives. Today’s world is drawing our people away by “other” things (assimilation). At the very least, hire a Jewish tutor. Sadly, in most cases in America, after the child’s bar/bat Mitzvah, it’s the end of their Jewishness. It should be the beginning of their Jewish lives! When we do not continue to teach our children their identity (even if it’s into their twenties in age), Kombuth points out it would be like taking away all of their Jewish books; leaving them nothing! Because we are the “People of the Book” we are to continue Jewish studies. Jacob was a tent dweller (Torah study). Esau ran from it, red, wild and hairy.
- Positive in Jewish living: Keeping our Jewish identity is crucial. Smart parents pick their battles. Teaching comes by showing our true actions by being involved, and being real. Being real or not is noticed.
The secular world doesn’t accept “religious” ideas that are G-d’s instructions because darkness cannot comprehend light. I conclude that many place their Nefesh (a bundle of appetites, desires, and intellect) above their Ruach (Spirit), allowing the Nefesh to lead. I would suggest that social media and worldly interests are taking priority. Some teens may see hypocrisy and want to hang out with friends, losing interest in following Torah. Sadly, many teens today do not want to have accountability for their choices and/or lifestyles; leaving them with much confusion.
Teens, and adults alike, sometimes struggle with concrete evidence if it doesn’t fit their ideals. Hasatan is working overtime whispering lies to our children— self-deception. If hasatan can convince children, layman, and others that some of the Ten Commandments don’t apply anymore, prey on their weaknesses, then he (hasatan) can convince them to sabotage themselves, in sin, just like Balaam when he deceived the Israelites to mix sexually (corruption) with the Moabites. It was the Moabites who tempted the Israelite men to commit adultery and idolatry. The Adversary will use what people desire against them to fall into sin.
The Nefesh is very strong and if we allow it to rise up above our Ruach (Spirit), we place our Ruach under our heel—at ground level. That isn’t a good place to be [ground level is placed in the dirt]. The Nefesh doesn’t like the words “no” or “wait”. The Nefesh thinks it is going to die. If you recall Esau, he sold his birthright for some red soup. He thought he was going to die. He wasn’t going to die; he wanted what he wanted without waiting!
Balaam’s sin was a heart matter, he let his Nefesh lead, not his Ruach. Leaving heart matters unchecked without accountability can devise wicked plans. Balaam’s sin came from the fourth of the “Wicked Lamp” that is an abomination. It is very thought-provoking “Balaam” means “Burning” such as the burning of the desires of the Nefesh. “Balak” means Destroyer—no promise of Eternal Good.
Hashem knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what will get our attention when He calls us to repentance. Sometimes Hashem will send the Adversary, one of His Agents, if that is what it’ll take to expose the sinner. He even sent a talking donkey once. The donkey was wiser than the man. Man falls into the “sin of Balaam” when there’s resistance to suffering. In other words, when we set our mind on things that are contrary to the will of G-d, we are resisting the trials Hashem set before us. Consequently, refusing to allow Hashem to work in our lives by not allowing the Father to transform us, like the angel of Hashem that opposed Balaam, we place ourselves into judgment.
What or who will we choose to “mirror” with our actions and attitudes? Our hearts are a heart matter that reflects our character. Who are we listening to? Do we want our ears entertained? What kind of movies are we watching at the expense of our spirit being forced to see? Are we holding our Ruach captive to the desires of the Nefesh? Are we entertaining our Nefesh by justifying poor reasoning, dancing with forbidden fruit? What entertains our thoughts and eyes? It’s a heart matter, indeed.
We need to understand the seven abominations that G-d hates.
- A proud look
- A lying tongue
- Hands that shed innocent blood
- A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations/plans
- Feet that be swift in running to mischief/evil
- A false witness that speaketh lies
- He that soweth discord among brethren.
It’s important to receive GOOD COUNSEL and Hashem’s wisdom in all things. Are we seeking counsel from those who don’t have a relationship with the Father and/or despise Torah? Are we listening to others who speak negatively (evil speak) others? Are we listening to hasatan who whispers lies into our ears? Perhaps we should exercise g-dly wisdom to seek an individual for truth instead of seeking to have our ears entertained.
The Adversary has many angles to deceived our children (Adults too!). After all, he is an expert in his work! Self-deception is apparent when it is taught that the Torah is no longer validated. This is a heart matter and the lust of the flesh. Eve (Chavah) was asked by the serpent, “Did He really say……?” Had Chavah gone back to the Father before answering, the outcome for her would have been different.
“A road may seem right to a man, but in the end it is a road to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
We need to have a desire to be in covenant with Hashem and have Teshuva (repent and return to Hashem). Justifying our selfish desires (spiritual adultery) removes man’s value of the Torah. We need to have a change of heart—one that is made of flesh, not stone. It is important to have a true relationship with our Father in Heaven, our Creator; honoring His Name on High. It’s time to allow the Ruach Ha’Kodesh (Holy Spirit) into our lives for comfort and good counsel. We need to be careful how we treat G-d’s Messengers. Did we disregard what was said? By whose ruling brought us to the point to ignore what someone else said? It doesn’t matter if we didn’t like what they said, are we sure Hashem didn’t use them to stir us up? Sometimes Hashem will use nonbelievers to get our attention.
Let’s join together under Hashem’s protective covering, His Cloud of Glory, His Sukkah, and allow Hashem’s provision to surround us by not remaining opened to the world’s ideals.
“For I am mindful of the plans I have made concerning you—declares the LORD—plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a hopeful future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
 Isaiah 11:1-3, Jewish Publication Society 1917
 Proverbs 16:25, Sefaria
 Jeremiah 17:9, The Stone Edition
 Psalms 25: 4-6, The Stone Edition
 All photos from Pixabay, free domain.
 Proverbs 14:12, Sefaria
 Jeremiah 29:6, Sefaria