Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"The soul of man is a lamp of G-d". Ki ner Hashem nishmas odom

"The soul of man is a lamp of G-d."

Like the candle, man is made up of different elements.
The candle's wick, flame, and oil resemble the body, soul, and their spiritual vitality.

The soul, like the flame, blazes with yearning. It burns brightly within, striving for holiness. It fiercely desires to tear itself free from physical reality and unite with its Source.
Yet, like the flame of the candle, the soul falls back, returning to illuminate the world and leave its mark on physical reality. For only as it exists within a human being can the soul accomplish its purpose of descent.

The body is likened to the wick of the candle.
The body houses the soul.
The soul can only fulfill its purpose through the body's senses; it can only understand with the body's mind, and it can only fulfill G-d's commandments with the body's limbs.
It is the body that provides the means and opportunity for the soul's relationship with creation.

The Torah, like the oil of the lamp, is the source for spiritual enlightenment, providing the direction for a meaningful life. Pure and clear, like the oil, the Torah and its mitzvot direct us to our ultimate purpose, permeating humanity and creation with a brighter goodness and truer perspective, in harmony with the will of our Creator.

Praying with a MINYAN

Prayer, the service of the heart, is one of the many ways that love of G‑d is expressed.

Although one may pray in private, praying in a synagogue with a congregation has always traditionally been preferable.

When ten men pray together, constituting a minyan, the Divine Presence rests on them. The prayer of a minyan is considered more effective than private prayer, because no interceding angels are needed to raise the prayer to G‑d. Rather, the prayers are accepted immediately.

G‑d never rejects the prayers of a congregation. Sometimes, a person's concentration and intention may be imperfect but if he prays with a congregation, his prayers will be heard. And as we all probably do not have perfect concentration when we pray, it is all the more important that we pray with a minyan. It is said that in the merit of praying with a minyan, one will make a living more easily and be blessed with the fruits of his labor. In fact, even if praying with a minyan causes one financial loss, G‑d will repay him by granting him extra success.

In addition, when praying with a minyan, one is able to say and/or hear many prayers that are only recited with a minyan, like the Kaddish, the repetition of the Amidah and the Torah reading.

Praying with a minyan is also said to be beneficial for long life.

The "Miser's" three legal court cases.

The townspeople of Berditchev were surprised when R' Levi Yitzchok attended the funeral of the rich miser. "Everyone took him to be a miser", explained R' Levi Yitzchok, "but I have discovered his true character through three legal cases which I had been called upon to decide."

"The first case concerned a wine merchant who went into shock when he discovered that he lost an enormous amount of money. He was not able to be revived until finally a man came forward and handed him the missing money that he said he had found. However, not long after, another man came forward, claiming that really it was he that had found the lost money, yet he had kept it until now. When he heard about the person who had given away an enormous amount of money to save the life of a stranger, he felt regret and now wanted to return the money to the generous donor.

The first man, however, didn't want to give up his mitzva of saving a person's life. They came to settle the matter halachically, and I ruled that the first man, whose funeral we just attended, was not required to accept the money."

"The second time I met him was when a poor man had fabricated a story to his wife and told her that while he was going to a distant town to 'strike it rich', he had arranged that she should go to our rich man here every week for a 'salary', so to speak.

"She innocently went and asked for what she thought was her due, and the rich man, understanding the situation, paid her for many months. When the husband returned, he insisted on repaying his benefactor. The "miser", however, replied that his business was solely with the wife, and he had nothing to do with the husband. Again, he was entitled to keep his mitzva.

"And the third time I met him was after a wealthy man who had gone bankrupt asked this rich man for a loan. 'Who will be your guarantor?' this rich man asked.

"'My only guarantor is G-d,' he replied. Our rich miser here said, "He is a Guarantor I can really trust!"

"When the day arrived for the man to repay his loan, the man said. 'You owe me nothing,' 'Your Guarantor already paid me.

" Once again, He was not required to accept repayment of his loan.

So, you see, my friends, he was no miser. On the contrary, he was a great and saintly person who practiced the giving of charity on the highest level - that of giving quietly, with no public acknowledgment. And he is now standing before the Heavenly Court, accompanied by his mitzvot, which are testifying to his saintliness before that Highest Court."