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ISLAMIC AND JEWISH FASTING: A Holy and Spiritually Healthy Diet

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Lack of self discipline will soon put more Americans in a hospital than all infectious diseases combined. About one third of the of the 600,000 Americans who died from various types of cancer last year, died due to their own life style behavior. Smoking, over eating and drinking, and physical inactivity did them in. The same set of self indulgences also afflicted those who died from heart disease last year.

The lack of self restraint so evident in much of modern life leads us first to pleasure seeking, and then increasingly to self induced suffering. Americans spend billions of dollars on pills, diet books and gym memberships but lack the self discipline to restrain themselves from over eating. And young people are leading the way in increasing self indulgence. In the majority of states (30 of 50) the percentage of overweight or obese children is now at or above 30%.

In our consumer driven cultural, we have largely lost the spiritual value of self restraint that is so important in the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim tradition. Self-restraint will be the single biggest factor influencing life expectancy in the 21st century. With self-restraint most people will have a good chance to live into their 80s or 90s.

However, indulgent pleasure seeking and lack of self restraint will increasingly cut short the lives of tens of millions of people. Almost all religions have always taught that self restraint is a virtue. Fasting and ritual dietary restrictions are the most wide spread example of spiritual self-restraint and self discipline.

The idea that people, even thin people, should restrict their culinary pleasures sounds outrageous to our 21st century ears. Dieting is hard enough. Why should we torture and afflict ourselves by fasting? Don’t most people think that being happy is the most important thing? Isn’t eating one of the most accessible pleasures we have? Why should religions restrict our pleasures? For example, why should the Torah decree a day of total denial of food and drink for every Jewish adult? (Leviticus 16:29, 23:27). For twenty-four hours Jews (over age 13 and in good health) are supposed to afflict their souls by abstaining from eating or drinking anything at all.

What we do not eat may be even more important than what we do eat. All animals eat, but only humans choose to not eat some foods that are both nutritious and tasty. Some people do not eat meat for religious/ethical reasons. Hindus do not eat beef, and Jews and Muslims do not eat pork, for religious/spiritual reasons.

On Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement Jews do not eat or drink anything at all for twenty-four hours. Every year for the entire the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from food and drink. The Qur’an says “Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint,” Qur’an 2:183. What is the Torah and the Qur’an trying to teach us by decreeing the importance of fasting? What spiritual benefits occur when we fast?

First of all, fasting teaches compassion. It is easy to talk about the world’s problem of hunger. We can feel sorry that millions of people go to bed hungry each day. But not until one can actually feel it in one’s own body is the impact truly there. Compassion based on empathy is much stronger and more consistent than compassion based on pity. This feeling must lead to action. Fasting is never an end in itself; that’s why it has so many different outcomes. But all the other outcomes are of no real moral value if compassion is not enlarged and extended through fasting.

As the prophet Isaiah said, “The truth is that at the same time you fast, you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. The kind of fasting I want is this: remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor”. (Isaiah 58:3-7)

Second, fasting is an exercise in will-power. Most people think they can’t fast because it’s too hard. But actually the discomfort of hunger pangs is relatively minor. A headache, muscle pains from too much exercise, and most certainly a toothache, are all more severe than the pains hunger produces.

I have on occasion fasted for three days, and found that after the first twenty four hours the pain decreases slightly as the stomach becomes numb. The reason it is so hard to fast is because it so easy to stop. Food and drink is all around, and in easy reach; all you have do is take a bite or a sip.

Thus the key to fasting is the will power to decide again and again not to eat or drink. Our society has increasingly become one of self indulgence. We lack self restraint. Fasting goes in direct opposition to our increasing “softness” in life. When people exercise their will-power and fast, they are affirming their self-control and celebrating mastery over themselves. We need continually to prove that we can do it, because we are aware of our frequent failures to be self-disciplined.

The third outcome of fasting is improved physical health. Of course, one twenty-four hour fast will not have any more effect than one day of exercise. Only prolonged and regular fasting promotes health. The annual fast on Yom Kippur can, however, awaken us to the importance of “how much and how often we eat or drink”.

For many years research has shown that when animals are somewhat underfed, receiving a balanced diet at below the normal quantity for maximum physical health, their life spans were prolonged from 50% to 100%. A 20 year study of rhesus monkeys published in Science in July 2009, found that the group on a reduced-calorie diet was two thirds less likely to die from cancer, heart disease or diabetes than those fed the normal diet.

Even if people do not follow a permanent restricted diet, the annual example of a 24 hour fast keeps the issue in mind. Also with all the additives placed in food these days we need to be reminded of the advantage of eating organically. More important, since our society has wide spread problems with overabundance, fasting provides a good lesson in the virtue of denial.

Health problems caused by overeating and over-drinking are the most rapidly growing health problems in affluent Western countries.Thus going without any food, or even water, for a twenty-four hour period challenges us to think very seriously about the benefits of the spiritual teaching; less is more.

Fourth in our list of outcomes, fasting is a positive struggle again our dependencies. We live in a consumer society. We are constantly bombarded by advertising telling us that we must have this or that to be healthy, happy, popular or wise. By fasting we assert that we need not be totally dependent on external things, even such essentials as food. If our most basic need for food and drink can be suspended for twenty-four hours, how much more our needs for all the nonessentials.

Judaism doesn’t advocate asceticism as an end in itself. In fact it’s against Jewish law to deny ourselves normal pleasures. But in our overheated consumer society it is necessary periodically to turn off the constant pressure to consume, and to remind ourselves forcibly that “Man does not live by bread alone.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Fifth, fasting serves as a penance. Though self inflicted pain may alleviate some guilt, it is much better to reduce one’s guilt by offsetting acts of righteousness to others. This is why, for Jews, contributing to charity is an important part of Yom Kippur. The same is true for Muslims during Ramadan. Indeed, fasting that doesn’t increase compassion is ignored by God. Also, the concept of fasting as penance helps us understand that our suffering can be beneficial.

Contemporary culture desires happiness above all else. Any suffering is seen as unnecessary and indeed evil. Though we occasionally hear people echo values from the past that suffering can help one grow, or that an existence unalloyed with pain would lack certain qualities of greatness, many today seem to think that the primary goal in life is ” to always be happy and free of all discomfort.”

The satisfaction one derives from the self-induced pain of fasting provides insight into a better way of reacting to the externally caused suffering we have to experience anyway. Taking a pill is not always the best way to alleviate pain especially if by doing so we allay the symptoms without reaching the root cause.

Sixth, fasting is good for the soul. It often serves as an aid for spiritual experiences. For most people, especially those who have not fasted regularly before, hunger pains are a distraction. People who are not by nature spiritual/emotional individuals will probably find that a one-day fast is insufficient to help induce an altered state of consciousness. Those who have fasted regularly on Yom Kippur might like to try a two to three day fast (liquids permitted). It is best to go about your daily activities and devote your late evening or early morning to meditation and prayer.

Since you have already fasted for Yom Kippur the easiest way is to simply extend the fast another thirty-six to forty-eight hours. We are prohibited to fast prior to Yom Kippur; eating a good meal prior to Yom Kippur Eve is a mitzvah (religious duty), because Judaism like Islam opposes excessive asceticism.

The seventh outcome of fasting for Jews is the performance of a mitzvah (a religious duty), which is, after all, the one fundamental reason for fasting on Yom Kippur. We do not do mitzvoth (religious duties) in order to benefit ourselves, but because our duty as Jews requires that we do them. Fasting is a very personal mitzvah, with primarily personal consequences. Fasting on Yom Kippur is a personal offering to the God of Israel from each member of the family of Israel.

For over 100 generations Jews have fasted on this day. A personal act of fasting is part of the Jewish people’s covenant with God. The principal reason to fast is to fulfill a mitzvah. The outcome of your fast can be any of a half dozen forms of self-fulfillment. But simply knowing that you have done one of your duties as an adult Jew is the most basic and primary outcome of all.

Finally, fasting should be combined with prayer and the study of Sacred Scriptures (the five books of Moses specifically or Scriptural texts in general). Indeed, the more one studies, the less one needs to fast. A medieval text states, “Better to eat a little and study twice as much, for the study of Torah is superior to fasting.”

Fasting is a very personal, experiential offering. However, though study is also a personal experience, it takes place with a text and/or a teacher. The Divine is often more readily and truly experienced in dialogue with others than in solitary meditation.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is rabbimaller.com

Earthpages does not render medical, legal, financial or other professional services. Those in need of expert assistance are advised to consult an appropriate licensed professional. TOU


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Who Do You Prefer, the Father of the “force”?

Sexta/Viernes/Friday-POSER-Deus - Dios - God

Sexta/Viernes/Friday-POSER-Deus – Dios – God: Caio Basilio via Flickr

Are you one of the many Christians who are into this whole “force of the universe” gospel? Are you more passionately focused in controlling the universe to achieve your personal desires, rather than wanting to do the Father’s will for your life?

It is not actually surprising that people are into the whole “attracting the universe” thing. We live a selfish and self-centered culture in which the Summum Bonum, the highest good, is getting what we want.  “Forget about the Father’s plan, I got my own plan!”

In making our personal plans the Summum Bonum, then it makes sense to “control the universe.” It makes sense to want to be God, for only God has the control over everything. And we want that same power for ourselves.

Many of us cannot totally be blamed for having this kind of philosophy. It was deeply ingrained ever since our childhood. “Pursue your dreams” is what our parents and teachers have taught us. There is nothing wrong in pursuing our dreams, but they are subordinate to God’s will. We were not created to fulfill our selfish goals, but realize God’s.

As Christians, Jesus is our model. Jesus was all about doing the Father’s will, “My food is to do the will of the Father”. Even in His most trying hours the Lord said to the Father, “Not my will but Your will be done.”

Many of us forget that fulfillment only comes in realizing God’s will in our lives. In His will is our peace.

So, have you ever asked God what is His plan for your life?

Or are you too busy trying to control the universe to achieve yours?

About the Author

Daxx Bondoc has been serving the poor with the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s sister) since 2004. His works with the poor included Catechesis, Bible studies, organizing and giving retreats. He also helped the sisters with their medical and gift distributions to the poor. As well as accompanying the sisters visit the poor in their homes. He was also a part of founding a lay movement in the Diocese of Antipolo. He is currently working as a web designer/flash animator for an international company. Founder of Inspirationalblogs.com

Article Source: Who Do You Prefer, the Father of the “force”?


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Miasma – An ancient view of sin and pollution

The poster reads

The poster reads “Firmly support the decision of the Central Committee to deal with the illegal organization of ‘Falun Gong'” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the more underdeveloped concepts we have today is that of pollution. Sure, we all know about measurable pollution like CO2 / global warming and our dying oceans. But how about spiritual pollution?

Not too many people talk about this. Part of the reason might be due to the misuse of the idea. In China, for instance, certain religious groups can be banned, and their members persecuted for ‘polluting’ the state—Falun Gong being a prime example.

The Chinese authorities periodically try to make ‘pollution’ a spiritual issue. This seems a perversion of a genuinely spiritual understanding of pollution. The Chinese authorities’ agenda with their version of ‘spiritual pollution’ is primarily ideological, and state oppression is tangibly real.

“Every several years — maybe five to seven years — China is likely to have a ‘spiritual pollution’ campaign and ‘anti-spiritual pollution’ campaign which means that they don’t like what they perceive to be coming from the West: sex, the freedoms, drug use; all of these very sensationalistic television programs.”¹

Considering the gross misuse of the term ‘spiritual pollution’ by governments overly concerned with social control, many of us in liberal democratic countries might see it as politically incorrect – or impolite – to say anything at all about spiritual pollution. However, liberal-democratic political correctness, no matter how well-intentioned, can sometimes stand in the way of progressive theory. People may be reluctant to talk about certain issues for fear of being branded a zealot. And I think this might be the case with spiritual pollution.

A 1772 painting by Jacques-Louis David depicting Niobe attempting to shield her children from Artemis and Apollo – via Wikipedia

We walk a fine line with religion these days. Few of us want to upset the apple cart, and for good reason. No person in their right mind wants to hurt or harm another for no reason. But if this also means that discussing the idea of spiritual pollution is utterly taboo, then something’s amiss and freedom wanes.²

The ancient world had a complicated view of spiritual pollution. It certainly was not without its sociological elements. But there was more. Gods and goddesses could be involved, along with demons. Not being a classics scholar, I find it relatively difficult to come up with good material on this. It’s all out there, but one has to weed through the ancient texts to get at it. So I was happily surprised to discover two things.

  • JSTOR now is open to the public. You can access up to three journal articles per 14 days for free. Then after 14 days, three different articles.³
  • While reading a footnote in the revised edition of G. M. A. Grube’s translation of Plato’s Rebublic, I noticed the following reference, which I found at JSTOR.
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I can’t recommend this review strongly enough for those interested in ancient Greece and the idea of spiritual pollution. It contains a plethora of references to the idea of spiritual pollution as portrayed in classical literature, making it a good starting point for further research.
MC
¹ Nikola Krastev, “China: Report Says Media Control Is Tightening,”Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Thursday, February 23, 2006.
² I make a preliminary attempt in “Pollution” at earthpages.ca
³ I can access JSTOR through the Toronto Public Library. But that only works for me for as long as I live in Toronto, which may not be forever. So I was quick to sign up for my free account, independent of the library.


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How to Stop Being a Slave to Sin

By: Ric Bai

Many people don’t believe or don’t want to think about this word called sin. Sin is often associated with a spiritual or religious experience, but it’s not prejudice, it will attack anyone. Lets take a closer look at how it affects us daily.

Gravity

What does gravity have to so with sin? Well, just as an example. You can’t see or smell gravity, but try jumping off a building and you will soon find out how real it is. Sin works the same way, you can’t see or taste it, but consider where your thoughts come from.

Most times they are influenced by what you watch, see or hear, and at times they just come out of thin air, or do they.

Daily Worries

All of us has our own daily concerns. Common are finances, relationships and health. Would you ever think it’s a sin to be consumed with these thoughts? The key word here is consumed..worried.

These are tactics that sin uses to keep you occupied so that you never have a chance to discover the truth. You would never just let an invader enter your house and steal from you, right? Well, sin knows this and even though it’s stealing your life daily, sin does it undercover.

It throws economic worries at you, it creates situations of stress, it provides thoughts of infidelity, the list goes on and on. But, you get the point, things we deal with daily are though as just a part of life. Who would imagine that sin would be behind this.

Understanding Sin

To combat this you have to understand sin. The one thing you must know is sin can’t enslave us unless we allow it to. It can’t force you to hurt a loved one, it has no power to take your hand and hit someone. It’s only power over you is in your thoughts.

It’s only at this point that you can have a chance to overcome sin and break the chains of slavery. It’s hard for many to believe, but just like gravity, believe it or not, it still exists.

There are a few things you can start to do today to break out of sins slavery. But, it can only happen if you want to or your just sick and tired of the routine.

About the Author

Experience is the best teacher they say and each day we learn more.

We pass some of this on at Search With Roy, the hub of our sites. Subjects covered are diabetes, debt, divorce, to name a few. Information and answers, isn’t that what you want? This is what we love to do on the Internet, take a look.

Article Source: How to Stop Being a Slave to Sin

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Spider Medicine (Arachnid Arcanum)

Originally posted on Shamagaia:

 Spider_web_Luc_ViatourImage source: Wikimedia Commons

Awkward Beginnings

Meeting a new animal spirit guide is always a deeply cathartic experience, and my recent introduction to a spider spirit guide was no exception. Relationships with animal spirits are in some regards like the ones we have with people. Trust takes time to develop in both parties. There may be reluctance at first, and this was the case with my spider spirit guide and I.

I met her peripherally at first, within my psychic safe space, which consists of a lush Australian bush grove with a stream fed by a waterfall. I journey here and ground myself upon a rock in the middle of the stream to meditate and clear my mind as I await interactions with various inter-dimensional beings.

However, on this particular occasion, I felt compelled to retreat back into the dark rocky recess behind the waterfall, which serves as my…

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Jewish Souls In Bodies That Do Not Look Jewish

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

(RNS) Sandra Lawson, a former military police officer turned personal trainer, wasn’t religious about anything (except maybe fitness), she also wasn’t looking to convert to Judaism, and she certainly never aspired to be one of the first black, openly lesbian rabbis, according to Religious News Service.

But in May Lawson finished her fourth year at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College outside Philadelphia. She plans to marry her girlfriend and spend the fall semester in Israel. If all goes according to plan, she will celebrate her ordination as a Rabbi in 2018.

“Sandra,” explained Rabbi Josh Lesser, the rabbi who prepared Lawson for her conversion, ”is an ‘all-in’ kind of person.” When Lawson, now 45, told him that she wanted to become a Jew 11 years ago, he said he felt that “some kind of leadership would emerge from this.”

No one has been purposefully mean to Lawson, but not long ago, a stranger saw her in a store, noticed her yarmulke and asked her if she was Jewish. She said she was and asked him the same question. “He looked shocked,” Lawson said of the man who turned out to be Jewish. “Like I was not allowed to ask him what he had just asked me.”

There was a picture of M. L. King in her parents’ home while she was growing up; there was no picture of Jesus’. Her family was not particularly connected to her father’s Baptist roots, and her mother didn’t talk about religion. But as a child, she was drawn to a story her mother told about an Ethiopian Jewish ancestor. “I don’t want people to think I grew up searching for this Jewish identity,” Lawson said. “It was just a story.”

But through a Jewish girlfriend in Atlanta, she was exposed to a full year of Jewish observances and holidays. At Shabbat dinners, Lawson loved how parents blessed their children. At the family’s Passover seder, she felt what Jewish tradition wants participants to feel — that in telling the story of the liberation of the Israelites, they are telling their own liberation story.

The relationship eventually ended. Then in 2001, she met Lesser, who hired her to be his personal trainer at the Urban Body gym in Atlanta. At first, Lawson knew her client as Josh Lesser. Later she found out he was Rabbi Josh Lesser. He invited her to Bet Haverim, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Atlanta founded by gay Jews.

The congregation was laid-back but serious about issues she cared about — gay rights and inequality. “I was looking for a community and I thought: ‘I want to be Jewish. And I want to be Jewish here,’” Lawson said. After her conversion, and when she felt herself more drawn toward leadership in the Jewish community, she found out that “there is a school that trains people like Josh.”

Although Sandra Lawson would probably be surprised , there is a good chance she has always had a Jewish soul. There are hundreds of thousands of people from Africa with Jewish souls. Their Jewish ancestors came to Africa during Roman times. Most of them lived in the area around Ethiopia and never lost their connection with the Jewish people. Almost all of these Ethiopian Jews now live in Israel.

Many other Jews who lived in smaller communities in east and west Africa eventually lost contact with the Ethiopian Jewish center and assimilated into African pagan culture. In later centuries these assimilated Jews were drawn to Islam and Christianity because it reconnected them to their Jewish origins. In the last century some of their descendants inherited a Jewish soul from one of their original Jewish ancestors.

This led them to return to the Jewish people by forming separate Black Hebrew sects (both in Africa and in America) or by individual conversion (like Sammy Davis Jr, the grandfather of opera singer Marian Anderson and Julius Lester, author of Lovesong: Becoming a Jew). How can one know if he or she has a Jewish soul?

Signs of a Jewish soul.

1- You like to ask questions? But when you asked them as a child, you were told faith is a gift from God and you shouldn’t question it. This never satisfied you, although others didn’t seem to have a problem with this view.

2- The trinity never made any sense to you even as a young child.

You couldn’t believe that people who didn’t believe in Jesus couldn’t go to Heaven.

Even though you were told to pray to Jesus, you preferred to pray to God the father, rather than Jesus, the Son of God.

3- You always related to the stories in the Hebrew bible more than to the stories in the New Testament.

4- You found you related well to Jewish people you met at work or at school even though they were very different culturally and religiously from your own family.

5- When you first learned about the Holocaust you reacted more emotionally than did other members of your own family or your friends.

6- When you started to learn about Judaism; you felt Jewish ideas and values were very reasonable, and Jewish traditions and heritage were very attractive. You felt you were coming home.

If most of these statements apply to you, you probably have a Jewish soul. If you can find a possible Jewish ancestor you definitely have a Jewish soul.

To learn more about Kabbalistic beliefs in reincarnation, and the reincarnation of Jewish souls in the non-Jewish descendants of Jews who were cut off from the Jewish People, read God, Sex and Kabbalah by Rabbi Allen S. Maller or visit Rabbi Maller’s website: rabbimaller.com


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RENEW Your Mind: My Story

By Marshae

God showed me the importance of renewing my mind in 2012. This was all before I had a personal relationship with God. It all began the day my brother died on Jan 25. I had recently moved to Atlanta for a job as well as to fully engage into a sexual lifestyle. On the day of my brother’s death, I begin to go into a deep depression. By April, I’d lost my job and my cousin and I was falling behind on bills because of my depression.

I decided that I was going to kill myself that April. I guess I should take a second to backtrack so that you will understand where the depression came from. I lost both parents before 10, so I was extremely tired of death at this point and my childhood was not the greatest after losing my father. I felt all life was about was coming her to die, so why would I wait, let me just take my own life. The day I decided to do it, I’d just taken 4 sleeping pills (I’ll be honest, I still was scared to do it) and working to take more when my phone rang.

It was a friend of mine I had met when I first moved to Atlanta and became very close with, he knew the mind frame I was in and was practically begging me to listen to a sermon of a new Pastor he had heard. I decided to listen to it. I remember stating before I played the sermon, “I know I should give, I know I should love, I know I should forgive, tell me something I don’t know!” Let’s just say God answered that for me that day. The sermon was called “Whose Report will you Believe.”

I was barely able to finish the sermon because of the sleeping pills. I know I feel asleep after the sermon, but I immediately called him the next day of waking up. I had never heard so much wisdom in my life, I talked to him for two hours and then Pastor Otha of Lionheart Church, invited me to the Church. I went to a bible study and again so much wisdom was given I re-dedicated myself back to God that night. After church service I introduced myself to him and I told him: “I lost my job, I need a job, Can you help me?”
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His response was, “Give a person a fish, he eat for a day, Teach a person to fish, he eat for a lifetime, I’m going to teach you how to pray and manifest anything you need from God.” He showed me how to pray and explained a few things to me. That was in April. I received a part time job in May, but continued to do as instructed. In September 2012, every single thing I had prayed for came to past. There was not one thing I had on my list of things that I needed that God did not answer.

Not only did God give me my dream job but He also changed my life in every aspect. He truly did make me a new creature as the scripture says and the main concept of why this was possible was God showing me how to renew my mind daily in Him. There was a lot of things I had to unlearn and allow the Holy Spirit to show me. Because I was willing to learn these things God did some pretty amazing things in my life and He is still doing some amazing things. I am looking forward of all the amazing things He will continue to do. I pray that whoever reads this article, that you decide to renew your mind so that you may know the hope to which He called you to!

About the Author

Hello, My name is Marshae. I am the Founder of RENEW Your Mind Ministry and just trying to spread the gospel and education of God through as… (show bio)

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