Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Chicken or the Egg? by Rabbi Moss

Question of the Week:
How do you reconcile the age of the universe according to science with the Torah account? According to the Torah we are in the year 5769 from creation. Yet science claims the world is around 16 billion years old. A bit of a discrepancy, wouldn't you say?

Answer:

I don't see any discrepancy here. Why can't we say that the 16 billion year old world was created 5769 years ago? Sounds weird? Let's travel back in time to see if it can make sense.

Let's imagine that you visited Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden on the very day they were created. The world is six days old, and the first human beings are not even one day old yet. And yet, they are fully grown and intelligent beings. Obviously Adam and Eve did not start life as babies, for who would look after them? And so while their passport would indicate that they were born today, their bodies would indicate that they were fully matured adults.

And just say that before Adam and Eve had a chance to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, you decided to chop down the tree to count the rings and see how old it was. You would find that the tree gives the impression of being years old, even though it was just created a couple of days ago. And the same would happen if you would carbon date the rocks in the Garden of Eden. Though freshly minted by the hand of G-d only days ago, they would seem millions or billions of years old.

This is because the world was created complete. Out of nothing, G-d made a world ready to inhabit, and then created mature human beings to live in it. G-d created trees, not seeds; adults, not babies; mountains, not molehills.

The old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, is answered by the Torah. G-d made chickens, not eggs.

When science dates the world, it doesn't take into account the starting point - the world was old already at the beginning. So indeed the world that is 16 billion years old was created 5771 years ago. There's no contradiction.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Welcome to the first class on Towards a Meaningful Life

Dear Student,

Once upon a time, our worlds were very small, and roles were clearly defined. You lived in a village with one blacksmith, and if the blacksmith moved away, there was no one to shoe the horses. If you were the town baker, you knew that everyone depended upon you for bread.

Today, we live in a universe of seven billion people suspended in the vastness of space. And the underlying concern of our age is, “Do we really matter?” Do our choices make a difference? Are our lives significant in the ultimate scheme of things?

This is the question that is at the root of our search for meaning, and it is the question that underlies this course.

In this first lesson, you will learn why everything you do does matter, now and forever. You will learn about the importance of having a personal mission statement, outlining your indispensable role. And you will gain some practical tools for implementing your mission.
I’m looking forward to having you join us for the first JLI class of Toward a Meaningful Life as we embark on an amazing journey together in search of a more meaningful life.

Why donors like Chabad

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

JLI to Offer “Toward a Meaningful Life: A Soul-Searching Journey for Every Jew”


We'd like to add just a little more meaning to your life. Here's a new six-week course from the Chabad Jewish Learning Institute. The two-minute meditations you'll learn in this course will forever change the way you experience life.

Life can be a treadmill - as we go through the motions day after day without ever asking why or seeking what really matters to us. This course, prepared by the author of the best-selling book, Toward a Meaningful Life, is determined to change that. Here are strategies, tips, and suggestions for not only discovering where your true meaning lies, but in actually making it a part of your daily existence.

Whether you are dealing with family relationships or job satisfaction, this course will help you look beyond a crisis to find the lessons within. Most important of all, these sessions will help you see life as the mysterious, challenging, and satisfying wonder that it really is.

Register today at www.ChabadWinnipeg.org/JLI. It's a decision you'll never regret!

Date:
6 Tuesday evenings, starting February 8
7:30pm - 9:00pm

or

6 Wednesday mornings, starting February 9
10:00am - 11:30am

Location:
Jewish Learning Centre
1845 Mathers Avenue

Fee: $79 (textbooks included)
Couples and students recieve a 10% discount.
For more information, please call 339-8737 or email JLI@ChabadWinnipeg.org.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Four Opinions!

Is it Immoral to be Overweight? by Rabbi Moss

Question of the Week:
As a fitness trainer, I wonder: Do health and fitness have a place in Judaism? It seems that the secular world encourages a healthy life far more than the Jewish world does. I hear rabbis talk about spiritual matters, but find it hard to listen to them if they themselves are overweight. Is physical well-being not important?

Answer:
In our modern world, we are seeing health is the new morality. Good and bad are now measured in calories. My cereal box invites me to "Taste the goodness" - not a moral value, but rather a nutritional value. The scales of merit are not found in heaven anymore but are right there on the bathroom floor, and the daily judgment is pronounced in kilos and pounds.

This all makes sense if you see the human being as just a body without a soul. If the flesh is all there is, health becomes the highest ideal. But from the Jewish perspective, the soul is our true self, and the body its vehicle. The body and its health are important only because through it we express our higher self.

The great Jewish thinker, Maimonides, wrote in the 12th century:

"Caring for the health and well-being of the body is one of the ways of serving G-d."

And he immediately explains why:

"One is unable to think clearly and comprehend truth if he is unwell."
If your mind is cloudy, you may lack moral clarity to know what's right. While battling with illness, we may not find the stamina to battle the ills of the world. That's why we need to look after our bodies. A healthy body is not in itself our life's purpose; it helps us fulfil our purpose. It is a vehicle that transports us towards goodness, it is not the destination.

Jewish tradition provides no excuse for being unhealthy. On the contrary, it gives the best reason possible to live healthy: Life has meaning and purpose, and each day is precious. Only if life has meaning is it worth taking care of. The risks of high cholesterol, heavy smoking and drug use are only a concern to one who values life. The threat of a shorter life span means nothing to someone who sees life as pointless.

We are the healthiest generation in history, and our life expectancy is reaching biblical proportions. This means we have more time and energy to fulfil our purpose - to elevate our corner of the world, and tip the scales towards true goodness.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Why Smash a Glass? by Rabbi Moss

Question of the Week:
I understand the reason I will be breaking a glass under my foot at the end of the wedding ceremony is to commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem some 2000 years ago. This indeed was a significant event in Jewish history, but it doesn't seem to have any personal relevance to me. What does a destroyed building have to do with my wedding?

Answer:The destruction of the Temple has extreme personal relevance. It happened to you. The shattering of the glass commemorates not only the fall of Jerusalem, but also a cataclysmic shattering that happened to your very own temple, your soul.

Before you were born, you and your soulmate were one - a single soul. Then, as your time to enter this world approached, G-d shattered that single soul into two parts, one male and one female. These two half souls were then born into the world to try and find each other and reunite.

At the time, the split seemed tragic. What was once a peaceful unit had become fragmented and incomplete. Why break something just so it should be fixed? If you were meant to be together, why didn't G-d leave you together?

Only when standing under the Chuppah do you find the answer to this question. At the wedding, these two halves are becoming whole, reuniting never to part again. And you can look back at the painful experience of being separated, and actually celebrate it. For now you realise that the separation brought you closer. Only by being torn apart, living lives away from each other, were you able to develop as individuals, mature and grow, and then come together in a true relationship, a deeper oneness than you had before, because it is created by your choice. Had you never been separated, you would never appreciate what it means to be together, because it wasn't earned. At the wedding you realise that your soul was only split in order to reunite and become one on a higher and deeper level than before.

And so we break a glass under the Chuppah, and we immediately say Mazel Tov. Because now, in retrospect, even the splitting of the souls is reason to be joyous, for it gave your connection depth and real meaning.

So you see, your personal story and the story of Jerusalem's destruction are inextricably linked. The shattering that happened to Jerusalem happened to your soul; and the joy you are experiencing now will one day be experienced by Jerusalem too.

The Temple was not a mere building, it was the meeting place of heaven and earth, ideal and reality, G-d and creation. When the Temple was lost, with it went the open relationship between G-d and the world. Our souls were ripped away from our Soulmate.

The only antidote to fragmentation is unity. And the deepest unity is experienced at a wedding. Every wedding is a healing, a mending of one fragmented soul, a rebuilding of Jerusalem in miniature. Our sages teach us, "Whoever celebrates with a bride and groom it is as if he rebuilt one of the ruins of Jerusalem." When soulmates reunite in holy marriage, an energy of love and oneness is generated, elevating the world and bringing it one step closer to mending its broken relationship with G-d.

And one day soon, when the Temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt, our souls will reunite with G-d, our Soulmate, in a true relationship that we built ourselves. We will no longer mourn the destruction, but looking back we will finally understand its purpose, and we will celebrate. Then, even the shattering will deserve a Mazel Tov.