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Serving Hashem

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free of creditDear neighbor
How should I treat the kindness of a neighbour who believes in other gods?
  • How to Understand Murdering Amalek & Other Mitzvot which Seem "Immoral"?
    Every moral & thinking Jew has asked questions about certain mitzvot which don't seem to "jive" with the morality of God & the Torah itself! Rav Kook, as usual, bravely deals with these issues, & explains that "eternity" means that the Torah also had to be relevant to the primitive world in which it was given 3,300 yrs. ago. He differentiates between some actions, like slavery & bigamy, that had to be "allowed" temporarily in the ancient reality, but were never obligated. Nevertheless, 2 obligations (!) which seem "immoral" are regarding Amalek (killing & remembering-Zachor), & conquering the Land of Israel. But upon a closer look, they aren't immoral at all! When we lack prophets & Sanhedrin, the God Who runs History solves many problems!
  • Mitzvot Which Seem “Outdated” in General or Unfair to Women
    All religious (or potentially religious) Jews have difficulty with mitzvot which seem to be outdated. How can a thinking Jew understand & identify with a Torah which allows slavery, bigamy or taking enemy women during war? This class also deals with many questions raised by women or feminists regarding the role of women in Judaism, laws of Aguna, divorce, the brachot of "Shelo Asani Isha" or "SheAsani KiRtzono", etc. Rav Kook, one of the most innovative & brave Gedolei HaDor, writes a lot on this issue of "updating", explaining & identifying with the Torah in a totally Orthodox way (on which no one can disagree), to bring the Torah closer to all. [It is the 1st part of the class on "Mitzvot Which Seem Immoral", also highly recommended!].
  • Don't Just Be Religious- Be Godly!
    Over the last century, mankind is less religious. Rav Kook suggests it's time to raise Torah to a higher level, that of "Being Godly". Ironically, both the rational Rambam & the Kabbalists summarize the goal of Judaism as Imitateo Dei, to copy God. The real "me" isn't my body but my Godly soul. When He finished creating the world, he told us to have children= to also create worlds. Similarly, when we observe Shabbat, it's not just because God said so, but bc He rests on Shabbat & our spark of God should naturally do the same! The Torah is not just commands, but God's ideals & advice how we can emulate His altruism. This eye-opening direction has proven very appealing today for those looking for something "higher" than ceremonious "religion".
  • Kiddush Hashem
    Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying God’s name, specifically before a gentile all too often is not even about the gentile at all.
  • Stress is Good For You!
    Researchers believe that some stress can help to fortify the immune system. For instance, stress can improve how your heart works and protect your body from infection. But on a deeper level, rising to challenges and overcoming them is the essence of life.
  • Sickness as a "Wake-Up Call"
    As a continuation of the class on "The Different Levels On Which G-d Runs the World", this class is on the different levels of sickness, whether ours or those around us. Just as fast-days are a self-induced weakness, which brings us to analyze our lives, priorities & actions, when God sends a sickness, it's not necessarily a punishment but rather a "wake-up call" to induce soul-searching. Life is comprised of such small incidents, some pleasant & others not, some direct & others less so, to keep us awake that we shouldn't live like robots, but rather utilize our Godly free-will to its utmost extent, keeping our lives meaningful & idealistic. Accordingly, even the "bad" messages are seen by Rav Kook as: The process of gradual good.
  • Rav Kook on: "It's Best to be Normal People"
    We find various rabbis in rabbinic literature who built their spirituality through fasting and depriving themselves of physical pleasure. Rav Kook explains that this is like "shock treatment" or bitter medicine, which healthy people don't need. In Torat Eretz Yisrael, the Living Torah most applicable to the modern world, the approach of unity is to reveal the harmony between the physical and spiritual worlds. In Israel, where even the physical is spiritual and the atmosphere is Jewish, it's much more conducive to living a life of modern orthodoxy without the dangers of losing our proportions, priorities or getting influenced by western society. Accordingly Rav Kook explains the machloket between Rava & Abaye in Masechet Shabbat.
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