Arise

The burning bushNow Moses, tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock into the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed. Moses said, “I must turn aside to look at this marvelous sight; why doesn’t the bush burn up?” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called to him out of the bush: “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not come closer. Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. I am,” He said, “the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. -Exodus 3:1-6 (JPS Tanakh)

A spark of G-d slumbers within, as a flame hushed within the embers.

Will she awaken from ideas? They are only more dreams to sleep by.

Will she awaken from deep thoughts? Their depth will not reach her.

She will awaken when she sees her Beloved, the Essence of All Things with which she is one.

And where will she see Him? Not in ideas, not in deep thoughts, but in a G-dly deed that she will do, in an act of infinite beauty.

Then her flame will burn bright.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Waking Up G-d”
Chabad.org

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. -Isaiah 60:1

In Christianity, faith is largely a matter of contemplation; the private and internal consideration of God and a person’s prayers in the name of Jesus. In Judaism, faith is not a matter of thought but of action. Yes, Judaism places a very high value on Torah study, but the study, in and of itself, isn’t meaningful unless put into action.

What was happening with Moses, the shepherd of his father-in-law’s flocks in Midian? Probably not much during those forty years. There’s no indication that he considered the plight of his parents, his brother, and sister, and the other Israelites in their Egyptian captivity. There is certainly nothing recorded in Exodus saying Moses was planning to do anything about the slavery of his people. Yet, as Rabbi Freemen tells us, there’s a fire sleeping inside.

In the case of Moses, the “fire” literally appeared before him and the voice of God called out, commanding Moses into action. What about the fire and voice inside of you…or me?

No matter how much you distrust your own sincerity or question your motives, there is no trace of doubt that at your core lives a G-dly soul, pure and sincere.

You provide the actions and the deed. She needs no more than a pinhole through which to break out and fill those deeds with Divine power.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“The Promise Inside”
Chabad.org

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. -James 2:14-17

Both Rabbi Freeman and James, the brother of the Master, remind us that concealing our faith and devotion to God inside is not faith or devotion at all. The Master himself reminds us that hiding our faith from the world illuminates no one (Matthew 5:14-16), probably not even ourselves. Nothing about who we are as disciples of our Master and children of God matters unless we shine our light into the world and extend our faith into the realm of deeds and actions. We are known by our fruit, not by the root that no one can see.

Dawn“Light” can take many forms. We can donate to worthy causes, volunteer our time feeding the hungry, visit the sick in the hospital, sing inspirational songs, speak of the Bible to our children and our children’s children, even write blogs, articles, and books spreading the good news of the Christ and the glory of God. Light under a bowl does not pierce the darkness and salt that loses its flavor gets thrown away. Living a meaningful life means that you have to actively live in the world, letting the fire inside yield its heat and light to everyone around you.

By acknowledging that within your body is a G-dly soul, a soul that can give your life purpose and lift it above the mundane pursuits of everyday life, you begin to put the pieces of your fragmented life in order.

from Toward a Meaningful Life: The Wisdom of the Rebbe
by Simon Jacobson
based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory.

In a previous blog post, I quoted from a commentary on Menachos 89 which says:

Mishnah Berurah writes that according to Kabbalists the primary time for Torah study is from chatzos until the onset of the morning. Shulchan Aruch HaRav writes that at the very least one should arise before morning to learn for some period of time at the end of the night.

The intent of my “morning meditations” is to offer something for you and for me that we can contemplate and then put into action as we start our day. I sometimes write my meditations before going to bed and study them right when I wake up. In the summer, the light of dawn is only slowly changing the horizon from black to grey as my thoughts and my spirit take in the words of the Master, the prophets, the apostles, and the sages.

The Gemara cites the verse in Tehillim (134:1) that mentions those who stand in Hashem’s house at night and R’ Yochanan explains that the verse refers to Torah scholars who engage in Torah study at night and the verse considers it as if they were involved in service of the Beis HaMikdash. The Gemara then cites a verse from Divrei HaYamim (II 2:2-3) and R’ Yochanan explains that this verse also refers to Torah scholars who study the halachos of service of the Beis HaMikdash and the verse considers it as though the Beis HaMikdash was rebuilt in their days. Sefer HoEshkol cites Rav Hai Gaon who notes that the two teachings of R’ Yochanan are juxtaposed to one another to teach that Torah scholars are obligated to study Torah at night and specifically the topic of korbanos. The implication of this teaching is that one who engages in the study of korbanos at night is considered as though the Beis HaMikdash was rebuilt in his days and he offered korbanos there.

Daf Yomi Digest
Halacha Highlight
“Reading korbanos at night”
Menachos 110

By the time the sun is hot and bright in the morning sky, I pray that the fire of God is burning even brighter in your heart and in mine.

Wake up.

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