Posts Tagged With: #lamp

Reflection or Deception?

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. Human philosophy and human wisdom is foolishness to Hashem. When we seek worldly wisdom and counsel, we can leave ourselves spiritually bankrupt from G-d’s Truth. If we are not careful to exercise wisdom, a snare will entangle us undetected. 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)[1]

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’s Torah, 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)[2]

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)[3]

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)[4]

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 rachamim 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 (accidentally, 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.

[5]

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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, 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 our 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.

Proverbs 6:16-19

  • 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)[6]

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 Hashem 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)[7] 

 

Shalom!

 

[1] Isaiah 11:1-3, Jewish Publication Society 1917

[2] Proverbs 16:25, Sefaria

[3] Jeremiah 17:9, The Stone Edition

[4] Psalms 25: 4-6, The Stone Edition

[5] All photos from Pixabay, free domain.

[6] Proverbs 14:12, Sefaria

[7] Jeremiah 29:6, Sefaria

Categories: Musings & Blessings | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Voice in the Midst

A Voice in the Midst

Communication can be very complex when the recipient cannot understand what the individual is trying to express. Communication is frustrating when there’s a breakdown from written language to verbal expression. When we communicate written language in a letter, email, or text, not seeing body language of the sender can leave the reader with uncertainty if there is sarcasm.

If the sender unintentionally leaves out additional information for clarity, it can also be a breakdown. However, the sender could have sent the message with perfect clarity, but the reader could be in a bad mood, or has past issues left unchecked; giving him/her the wrong temperament reading the message with a biased opinion.

Miscommunication can be daunting and hurtful to both parties. It comes down to motives and where our heart and thoughts are when messages are sent or received. Having said that, we need to be additionally careful on social media how we present ourselves. We should never use social media, such as Facebook, to call others out with intentions to shame or embarrass. If there’s a question of concern, a private message would show maturity and honor; looking for the good in others.

Using our voice can be another way to communicate. Having a voice gives one an advantage, in most cases, to express our needs. Our voice can ask questions, give directions, teach, as well as to scream for help. One can read stories to children, sing, laugh, give counsel, and pray with others with a voice. The list goes on. Our voices can be very powerful—the tongue. Trouble arrives when we don’t keep our heart and thoughts in check.

Our tongue can be a blessing or a curse to others, ourselves included. Language can build up or tear down. Our words can breathe life or death into others. Our voice is a gift from Hashem, therefore, wisdom should be used before we open our mouths. Do we want to speak love and life, or like a knife, cut people down by belittling and mocking that shatters them with a broken spirit? How we speak to others exposes and reveals our character and heart. From the heart speaks the mouth. A gentle tone goes a long way. A listening heart and a soft spoken word of encouragement is chesed (Loving-kindness).

We are a product of our thoughts that feed our Souls. We cannot blame others for our failures if we become our own taskmaster. When we settle for complacency, we remain in bondage with an infancy outlook in life; spiritually stagnate.

Let’s imagine we are at the finest restaurant with the most exquisite foods. When the server places our dessert in front of us, what would it (our words spoken) taste like if we had to eat our own words? What taste would our tongue deliver? Would that spoonful be soft, sweet as honey that gives life and hope to others? Life within extends the beauty of Torah into the lives of others. On the other hand, would our words taste like poison that brings death? Would our words taste of death like a rotten carcass left in the heat? Words matter. Words are remembered by our souls.

Our “words” spoken to others, as well as to ourselves can build up and heal. A deeper connection of “words” holds a higher level of meaning; such as, words of encouragement, confidence, compassion, integrity, promise, and g-d- esteeming others. The words breathed out bring Life or Death. It’s a flood gate. The flooding of words can either bring hope and refreshment, or a hot-headed tongue that scorches like a forest fire. Our words manifest from our thoughts to our heart and it comes out of our mouth. Our tongue is a sharp-edged sword. When we cross blades with others, our Father hears and sees. May Hashem see our words of joy and healing.

The words we speak impacts our outlook in life, health included. It’s important to give ourselves chen (grace), to be a friend to ourselves; especially when others may not be available emotionally. It can be discouraging when others are disconnected from G-d’s chesed, but Hashem’s love for us surpasses everything. Hashem gives us His strength and joy. Our Father in Heaven will carry us and wipe every tear shed. Our tears are held in a bottle.

“You keep count of my wanderings; put my tears into Your flask, into Your record.” (Psalms 56:9)[1]

Hashem knows our heart and thoughts. G-d will send trials that’ll reveal the measure of chen we give others. It’s never a good idea to ignore Hashem when He is teaching goodly things. Evil speech (Lashon hara) is destructive and comes in forms of hurtful words such as: shaming, yelling, pointing fingers, lies, gossip, belittling, mocking, derogatory, embarrassing others, especially in public. If one is yelling while the other person is in tears, a heart and tongue check needs to be evaluated with forgiveness requested.

Our words spoken determine who we are within. One should never be humiliated. The measure of  rachamim (mercy) , or lack of, is the same measure we will receive from G-d. How much rachamim do we want on Judgement Day? We need to take each step in life in “baby steps,” giving the measure of rachamim to others that we would want to receive from Hashem.

When we listen to gossip, we become a participant in Lashon Hara (evil speech). In other words, as human beings, we are created to be in G-d’s image. The choice is to honor G-d by blessing others with kind words and actions (good deeds), or its opposite that takes on the image of the Beast (beast and man were created on the sixth day) that dishonors G-d and others with evil inclination (Yetzer Hara).

Yetzer Hara takes on the Nefesh (soul/flesh) that acts on impulse. Evil inclination moves us away from the goodness of Hashem with selfish thoughts and/or self-gratification, self-praise (haughtiness), and acts as a self-appointed g-d. The tongue cuts like a knife. Once the harsh word leaves our mouth, it’s too late, it can’t be taken back. We can ask for forgiveness and start over with a change of heart; however, natural consequences of sin can remain.

Lashon Hara is one who speaks with an evil tongue about another person regardless if it’s true, or not. They discredit the character of others with uncomplimentary words. Motzi shem means “evil reports.” One who spreads evil reports is malicious and spreads evil. They are considered a moral leper.

One may say they have never stolen from others; however, Lashon Hara steals love, honor, respect, and trust with disparaging words that leave us uncovered in the eyes of others. The one spoken against, his/her image could be forever altered with a damaged reputation. Lashon Hara takes from G-d’s People. No one knows the work Hashem is doing in the lives of others. Negative words not only leaves people uncovered, but it uncovers Hashem.

We must be careful to not plant bitterness in the hearts of others with hurtful words. There’s a choice to honor people, to show affection for  G-d’s creation, or bring harm with a calloused heart. The tongue does not have bones, yet its strength can break a heart.

There is a Chasidic tale about a man who went into the community spreading false reports about a Rabbi. His words were very hurtful, malicious, and slanderous. After a while, he felt guilty about his poor behavior and wanted to make a mends; asking the Rabbi for forgiveness. The Rabbi asked him to return to his home and take some of his feather pillows, cut them open and scatter the opened pillows throughout the room with the window opened for the breeze to come inside. The man thought it was a strange request but simple to do in order to receive the Rabbi’s forgiveness.

Returning to the home of the Rabbi to report what he had done, the Rabbi told him to return home to gather up the feathers. The man said it’s impossible to retract them, the feathers blew everywhere. The Rabbi told the man despite his change of heart and his sincerity to correct what was done, like the feathers, it’s impossible to gather the damage caused with words.

 “A man’s belly is filled by the fruit of his mouth; He will be filled by the produce of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue; Those who love it will eat its fruit. ” (Proverbs 18:20-21)[2]

Yetzer Hara is first mentioned in Genesis 6:5—“HASHEM saw the wickedness of Man was great upon the earth, and that every product of the thoughts of his heart was but evil always.”[3]

Our words should be a blessing that grow others in the breath of life, love, and truth; bringing honor to Hashem. When we use our words with Yetzer Hara (evil speak), we are violating G-d’s will and it invites the “spirit of impurity.” G-d’s righteousness doesn’t bow down to corruption.

There are times our voices need to be heard:

What about people with special needs who can make sounds with their voices but cannot speak, or is unable to make any sound due to a medical condition? They need their voice to be heard. Sign language and braille (for those who are blind) can be a blessing so that their “quiet voices” can be heard. Yet, there are others who are unable to use sign language; although, they can use communication devices. When it comes to programming communication devices, programming can be challenging. Some individuals are more advanced than others. Evaluations and observations can usually determine their level of understanding. However, in some cases, those methods are not always accurate. Every person is at a different learning level.

We learn at a different pace. Programming communication boards (iPad or other) for those who are nonverbal can become very challenging as it reveals the density of language. It’s more than a language barrier between two people from different countries trying to communicate. When one isn’t able to demonstrate what he/she understands, creating a device to meet the needs of the individual can be perplexing, especially if the child/adult doesn’t initiate the conversation.

When a communication device is designed to have a voice command state what the photo is, that’s the beginning of a new world for one who is nonverbal. The complexity is revealed when we “up the Ante” on the communication board. We realize that when two verbal people can carry on a conversation about anything, trying to design a touch screen device to mimic “conversations” is impossible. Although a simple question and answer can be programmed, they remain the same until it’s reprogrammed. As an advocate for those without a voice, it’s our responsibility to be that voice. We do our best and allow a lot of patience on each side. The nonverbal person becomes our teacher, and over time, we will reap those blessings when they come pouring out for the glory of Hashem.

No matter what we are able to do in life, Hashem hears our voice. He hears our thoughts and He knows our motives, struggles, plans, desires, fears, and concerns. We can learn from one who is nonverbal. When we enter a facility or a home with a special needs person, it’s important to take a few minutes to show kindness by acknowledging them. One might offer to read him/her a story, mention how nice they look, or comment on their beautiful smile. They are aware who spends time with them and who doesn’t. We are called to love one another—loving-kindness (Chesed).

“Of HASHEM’S kindness I will sing forever; I will make Your faithfulness known to every generation with my mouth. 3 For I said, “Forever will [Your] kindness be built; the heavens, You establish Your faithfulness in them.” (Psalms 89:2-3) [4]

Language is a gift and so is the ability to hear. Will we hear (Shema) G-d when He calls? This type of hearing is from within. Hashem wrote His Torah upon our hearts. Isn’t it amazing that those who are nonverbal, physically deaf, and find it challenging to communicate with others in written, speech, sign, or with devices can still hear (Shema) the voice of G-d when He calls? In the same breath, those who are blessed with a voice to speak, and given the intelligence to understand written language with perfect hearing can be blind and deaf to the voice of G-d.

“Hear this, O nation that is foolish and without a heart,
They have eyes, but cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear!” (Jeremiah 5:21)[5]

Moses reminds us that G-d doesn’t seek blind obedience. “‘He wants us to listen, not just with our ears, but with the deepest resources of our minds. If G-d simply sought out obedience, He would have created robots, not human beings with a will of their own.[…] G-d, in making human beings “in His image,” was creating otherness. And the bridge between self and other is conversation: speaking and listening. When we speak, we tell others who we are. But when we listen, we allow others to tell us who they are. This is a supremely revelatory moment. And if we can’t listen to other people, then we certainly can’t listen to G-d, whose otherness is not relative but absolute.’”[6]

Courage is demonstrated when we open ourselves to others; giving someone an opportunity to be heard, understood, and cared for. It’s a spiritual act to listen to others, and to G-d. Listening to others is the greatest gift one could offer. It can be life-changing.

The question remains… how will we speak to others? Do our words edify? This is a very important question. Are we willing to listen to others?

We edify G-d’s creation by acknowledging the value in others. Our choices reveal our character, and our heart. Will we breathe life or death into others? Will we bring blessings or cursing with our speech? Will we honor, or shame and embarrass others? What do our words taste like? I hope our words taste like the sweetness of honey, edifying others with loving-kindness.

Chofetz Chaim reminds us in A Lesson A Day, “‘[…] when anger comes upon a person, he guards the sanctity of his soul and does not allow it to become uprooted and replaced by the “foreign g-d” [that is anger], then he is a person who is fit to be near. However, if he does not guard the sanctity of his soul, allowing it to become uprooted so that the “other side” can dwell in its place, surely he is a person who rebels against his Master, and it is forbidden to seek his company… he is a person who “tears apart his soul in his anger” (Iyov 18:4).’”

Death and Life are in the tongue’s power.

The measure we give others is the measure we receive from G-d. In other words, if we hope to receive rachamim (mercy) from G-d, we need to extend that same amount to others (if not more), ourselves included. When we hold on to anger it is holding on to idolatry.

We never know what Hashem is doing in the lives of others. Like a seed planted in dirt, it remains in a dark place for a certain amount of time to germinate. However, during that time, life is happening. There is movement. We don’t see it on the surface until growth sprouts. There is life in that seed and Hashem is watching. He is watching the seeds, the soil, and the ones planting. He is also watching those who throw toxic weed seeds (hurtful words and poor actions) in His Garden. Our words can either demonstrate kindness through intelligent speech that esteem others, or words of the beast that hurt and tear down like the tearing of teeth from a beast that rips into flesh for pleasure.

Let our words lift up each other in prayer and song. Let our voices call out to Hashem with joy and praises; thanking G-d for everything. Let’s breathe out words of life that bursts forth sprouts of life that encourages others.

Our voice comes through our mouth. Hebrew for mouth (speech and silence) is Peh. Peh also represents the gematria value of eighty. Eighty is “spiritual strength to control the body impulses. A person develops this maturity with ripening age.” (Tiferes Yisrael) Ironically, Moses was eighty years old when G-d sanctified Moses with His words to speak properly. Moses did not remain stagnant in his old age; he continued to learn to serve G-d and others.

 “And HASHEM G-d formed the man of dust from the ground, and He blew into his nostrils the soul of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) [7]

Whether our words are verbalized or left in silence, our thoughts bring forth actions, emotions, spirituality, and physical transformation into fruition. Will our basket of offerings be sweet as honey or rotten?

“The heavens declare the glory of G-d, and the firmament tells of His handiwork. Day following day utters speech, and night following night declares knowledge. There is no speech and there are no words; their sound is not heard. [But] their precision goes forth throughout the earth, and their words reach the end of the inhabited world. In their midst He has set up a tent for the sun, which is like a groom emerging from his bridal chamber, it rejoices like a powerful warrior to run the course.  Its source is the end of the heavens and its circuit is to their end; nothing is hidden from its heat. The Torah of HASHEM is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of HASHEM is trustworthy, making the simple one wise; the orders of HASHEM are upright, gladdening the heart; the command of HASHEM is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of HASHEM is pure, enduring forever; the judgments of HASHEM are true, altogether righteous. They are more desirable than gold, than even much fine gold; and sweeter than honey, and drippings from the combs. Also, when Your servant is scrupulous in them, in observing them there is great reward. by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern mistakes? Cleanse me from unperceived faults. Also from intentional sins restrain Your servant; let them not rule me, then I will be perfect; and I will be cleansed of great transgression. May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You, HASHEM, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalms 19:2-15)[8]

There will be times we feel as though our prayers are not heard, isolated, and alone. Hashem holds every tear we’ve cried, and one day HIS GLORY will rain on us with amazing joy that is “Heavenly Scented.”

We need to remember the ones who are nonverbal that G-d hears them just as much as He hears us. Our words don’t need to be physically vocalized; it is given through breathing life into others with blessings and good deeds. Our voices, silent or not, are heard by the Father. The Torah is the Lamp of His Light—Amen!

The Midrash states, “Words, like the ocean, can be stormy or calm. An evil mouth, like turbulent waves, can destroy and kill. A sharp tongue, like deep water, is feared. Good words, like pearls on the ocean floor, are precious…” (Midrash Alpha Beisa)

As we study Torah with an eagerness to learn, what benefit is a beautiful flower that blossomed in the middle of an isolated desert. In other words, when we are gathered to learn Torah, we acquire wisdom (Chokmah) when to teach, or when to remain silent. We can use our Peh and bring Torah to others to benefit from that same wisdom.

My G-d, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking deceitfully. To those who curse me, let my soul be silent; and let my soul be like dust to everyone. Open my heart to Your Torah, then my soul will pursue Your commandments. As for all those who oppose and who design evil against me, speedily nullify their counsel and disrupt their design. May it be your will, Hashem, my G-d and the G-d of my forefathers, that human jealousy may not rise up against me, nor my jealousy upon others; may I not become angry today, and may I not anger You. Rescue me from the Evil inclination, and place my heart submissiveness and humility. O our King and our G-d, cause Your Name to be unified in Your world; rebuild Your city, lay the foundation of Your House, perfect Your sanctuary; gather in the scattered exiles, redeem Your sheep, and gladden your congregation. Act for Your Name’s sake; act for Your right hand’s sake; act for Your Torah’s sake; act for Your sanctity’s sake. That Your beloved ones may be given rest; let Your right hand save, and respond to me. May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You, Hashem my Rock and my Redeemer.” (The Complete Artscroll Siddur)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My spirit within you, and I will make it so  that  you will follow My decrees and guard My ordinances and fulfill them.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)[9]

Shalom!

 

[1] Psalms 56:9, Sefaria

[2] Proverbs 18:20-21, Sefaria

[3] Genesis 6:5, The Stone Edition

[4] Psalms 89:2-3, The Stone Edition

[5] Jeremiah 5:21, The Stone Edition

[6] https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/4091059/jewish/Listen-Really-Listen.htm

[7] Genesis 2:7, The Stone Edition

[8] Psalms 19:2-19, The Stone

[9] Ezekiel 36:26-27, The Stone Edition

 

 

Categories: Musings & Blessings, Women of Valor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: