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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Recap for 20 Av 5777 (Parsha Eikev)

This Shabbos we discussed parsha Eikev, including commentary from Rav Yeager. We discussed the constant mitzvah of loving Hashem. I would like to thank David and Linda for hosting the kiddush and learning. The learning was in memory of David’s mother, Shulamith bat Tzvi Aryeh. May her memory be for a blessing.  David Schlesinger led discussion.

We discussed this Shabbos the fundamental idea that we are made up of a body and soul. We discussed that our soul exists both before and after our life in this world. We discussed the idea that life in this world is a bridge between the 2 other worlds.

We discussed the idea that before we are born, our soul exists, and is designated for us by Hashem at the time of conception. During our lifetime we have the opportunity to have experiences that grow the soul spiritually. This growth, and closeness to Hashem that we develop during our life, remains with us as the soul journeys to the world to come, after our physical bodies have expired.

We discussed an interesting idea, that the same way a baby passes on to the next world when it is born, we pass on to the next world when our physical bodies expire. Just like a baby can witness a twin disappearing from the womb when this twin is born, we witness people leave this world when their soul journeys to the next world.   

Rob commented that he would be very interested in knowing the sources for all of this. Norm commented, that this as well as many ideas in Judaism are based on faith, rather than on proven fact. Efroni commented that although Judaism is based on faith, once we lay down some fundamentals, we can reach logical conclusions and derivations that would have to be true given the fundamentals.

We discussed from this week’s parsha how Moshe spoke to the people about loving Hashem. David commented that this mitzvah of loving Hashem, is unlike other mitzvah’s that are time and/or situationally dependent. It is a great mitzvah to constantly love Hashem. Harold Katz, a regular reader of these notes has shared this idea of the 6 constant mitzvahs with me.

One of the big questions we have, that we discussed, is how can we be commanded to love. We discussed the answer to this, is that we can do this with our actions. By learning about Hashem and his creations, and following his Torah we express our love. We discussed the importance of studying secular subjects as well as studying the Torah, in order to appreciate and love Hashem.
By studying secular studies, we can get to know Hashem and admire his awesomeness. Norm spoke about how the Torah first came up with the idea that time had a beginning, long before science caught up with this idea with the theory of the “big bang”.  David shared thoughts from his father, Rav Dr. George Schlesinger, that the astronomical odds against the fine tuning of the universe needed to support life occurring randomly, is evidence of the existence of a creator. We discussed that learning secular studies and participating in the act of creation brings us closer to Hashem and helps us fulfill the constant mitzvah of loving Hashem.

Barack mentioned the very large number of planets, and that this made it more likely life would exist somewhere else outside of earth.  My personal belief is that life will exist outside of earth, if man decides to finish the act of creation and put it there, which is one of the reasons a large number of planets exists.

We discussed how love of Hashem is a constant mitzvah and applies both when things are going well, and when things are not going well. Howard shared that we should “double down” on our faith in Hashem when things are not going well.

We discussed how we all have strengths and weaknesses. We discussed 2 different approaches to this. In the first approach, we play to our strengths. For example, if I am very good at making money I focus on donating money rather than volunteering my time which could be better spent making money to enable me to give tzedukah. The other approach we discussed is that we should focus on areas in which we need improvement. For example, if I am very good at making money and giving tzedukah, I should focus on volunteering my time in our community.

This is a summary of what we discussed.  No halachic rulings are intended or should be inferred.