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A POST RAMADAN LESSON: TWO BOYS FORGO A ROYAL FEAST

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Once upon a time a King went out to hunt on a very warm day in the Fall of 2007. After a few hours he felt very hot and tired, so he decided to stop for lunch. His servants unpacked a large picnic basket they had brought with them and set up a table.

Now the King didn’t want to eat together with his servants, nor did he want to eat alone. The King told one of his servants to find someone to come and eat lunch with the King. The servant walked to a nearby road, saw two 13-year-old boys walking along, and told them that the King wanted to see them.

The boys were very surprised, and a little frightened, but they went with the King’s servant. When they arrived at the picnic, the table was set with all kinds of wonderful foods and drinks. The King told the boys to sit down next to him and eat. The boys sat down next to the King, but they did not eat.

After a few minutes the King said, “Why are you not eating? My food is prepared by the best cook in the Kingdom. It is the best tasting food in the country. Doesn’t it look good to you”
“It looks great, and I am sure it is the best food I will ever taste,” answered one boy, “but I can’t eat it.”

“Did you just finish eating lunch? If so you do not have to eat a whole meal, just have some of these great deserts” said the King.

The other boy replied, “Actually we did not eat lunch today, but we cannot eat anything, not even one of those really good looking chocolate covered candies.”

The King was surprised and asked, “Are you sick? Is that why you have lost your appetite?”
“No,” said the boys, “We are not sick and we haven’t lost our appetites.”

“Then why are you not hungry?” asked the King.
“But we are hungry” said one boy, and his friend added, “Neither of us ate lunch, and I did not eat breakfast. We are very, very hungry.”

The King looked bewildered and shouted, “Then why don’t you eat since both of you are hungry and the food is delicious?”

“Because this month is Ramadan* and I am a Muslim” said one boy. The other boy nodded and said, “And today is Yom Kippur* and I am Jewish.”

The King was astonished and said, “Why shouldn’t you enjoy yourselves? This is the best tasting food you will ever eat and you are hungry.”

“That is true, but that makes it even more important for us to fast,” answered the boys. “It is easy not to eat food you do not like. The test of a person’s self-control is best when the temptation is greatest.”

“Do you think God cares if you eat or not? Go ahead and eat, I will not tell anyone, especially your parents.”

Both boys said, “No thanks. Even if you don’t tell anyone else, we will know that we failed to live up to our religious duties to God.”

The King thought for a moment and then asked the Muslim boy why the Muslim God made Muslims fast for a whole month while the Jewish God only required one day of fasting.
The Muslim boy answered, “Muslims fast on Ramadan because that is the month that Prophet Muhammad received the first verses of the Holy Qur’an. Fasting brings us closer to God, inspires us to seek to reconcile with our adversaries, and stimulates us to give charity to the hungry.

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (...

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (1878 painting by Maurycy Gottlieb) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jews fast for one day because that is what the Torah requires of them. There is only one God. Jews and Muslims obey the same God, but God asks each religious community to do different things. God judges us according to how good we are in our own religion, not according to somebody else’s religion.

The Holy Qur’an in Surah 5, Verse 48, says: “If Allah had so willed, He could have made humans a single people, but He tests you in what He has revealed to you, so strive to compete in all virtues.”
My father says that this is one of the most important teachings of the Qur’an for both Muslims and everyone else in today’s world. Muslims fast everyday for the whole month of Ramadan, but only from sunrise to sunset. We can eat dinner after sunset and breakfast before sunrise. Jews have to go without food or drink for a full 24 hours on Yom Kippur. Each community must be faithful to its own religion.”

The King asked the Jewish boy, “What is Yom Kippur?”

“Yom Kippur teaches us that we must improve ourselves each year by changing some of our bad habits or behavior. We must admit we have done bad things and hurt people. We have to go face the people we hurt and make peace with them. This is not easy to do.

My father says that to improve oneself takes lots of self-discipline. Fasting is good training in one of the most basic and difficult self-disciplines; dieting. It is easy to eat food that tastes good. But to limit yourself by restricting your diet every day, and not eating at all on Yom Kippur, is a real challenge and helps Jews improve their self-control and spiritual self-discipline.

All faithful Jews who are 13 years or older, are commanded by God to fast on Yom Kippur, so I have not eaten since dinner last night. I knew fasting 24 hours on Yom Kippur would be a test of my will power, and my commitment to be a faithful Jew, but I never thought I’d be challenged by being tempted to eat a meal fit for a King.”

The King was very impressed by what the boys said. He was even more impressed by the boys’ self-discipline and commitment to be faithful to their own religious teachings. So the King told the boys to come to the palace the next evening, along with their entire family, and have dinner with the King and the Queen. And that is what they did.

One year, the King also tried to fast on Yom Kippur, but he was only able to fast until 4 pm when he gave up, saying “I couldn’t do it for even one day. I guess if you don’t start when you are young it is a lot harder than it sounds.”

*Ramadan: Both the Jewish and the Muslim calendars are based on the moon; so the dates of Muslim and Jewish holidays change each year in terms of the solar calendar, The Jewish calendar is connected to the solar calendar so the changes are not cumulative. The Muslim calendar’s changes are cumulative so Ramadan falls 11 days earlier every year. In every generation (31-31 years), Yom Kippur and Ramadan coincide at least 2 or 3 times; and September 22, 2007 was the third year in a row that Yom Kippur coincided with Ramadan.

*Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement, the last day of the ten days of Awe during which Jews examine their hearts and minds and seek out people they think they have hurt or ignored during the last year to make amends and reconcile. God will forgive their sins when they have both reconciled with others, and reformed themselves to not repeat their bad behavior.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com


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A Brief Guide to African-American Worship

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Dr Ty King

While the diverse cultures of the Christian world have their distinctive and beautiful approaches of worshipping, there’s something distinctively enriching regarding African-American Christian worship. We trust it exemplifies principal outlines of thought & experience that do much to praise it to Christians far and wide.

Anyone who has noticed or partaken in an Afro-American Christian worship facility will agree that there’s an indisputable dissimilarity between the manner American Blacks worship & the worship of other ethnic and racial groups. Embedded in their distinctive social past in America, the similarity is more one of function & experience in comparison to proof that one approach is better to another.

The custom of Afro-American worshipping together persisted to progress throughout the late nineteenth century and carries on to till date in spite of the turn down of segregationist approaches and the standard acceptability of integrated devotion. African American Churches in Charlotte, NC have long been the hubs of communities, serving as school locations in the early years following the Civil War, hosting social welfare functions, like offering help for the poor, and going on to established schools, or prison and orphanage ministeries. Consequently, black churches have promoted influential community organizations and offered spiritual & political leadership, especially throughout the civil rights movement.

Tasks of Afro-American worship:

With no posturing to being comprehensive, the following are some modern tasks of Afro-American worship and it must carry on:

  • To reproduce the collective experience of Afro-Americans without lessening the critical focus of worship admiration of & for divinity.
  • To contain inventive tension its unmistakable emphasis on fixing the injustices & disproportion in this globe with eschatological focal point on the life to come.
  • To find a balance between impulsiveness and order
  • To be commemorative without surrendering to emotionalism.
  • To empower worship and rejoice Christ.

Afro-American worship has played an important part in the Afro-American society. Slaves who didn’t discard their African spiritual legacy came to admit the God of their masters, devoting God initially in the Invisible Institution and afterward in their free cathedrals.

There was revised Christianity exceptionally suited to fulfill the requirements of their existential circumstance. A merriment of God’s redemptive deeds in history and on their behalf, their devotion offered them with pastoral attention, freedom, and empowerment. Music, prayer and the sermonized words are amongst the rudiments of their devotion, meant to carry on to be a “Balm in Gilead” for the rest of the journey.

Source: A Brief Guide to African-American Worship


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Spiritual Expansion – What Is a Psychic Attack And How to Avoid Attacking Others

Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac

Psychic… Powerless… Another Man’s Sac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s an interesting article that I do not entirely resonate with. The issue I have with this piece has to do with protecting oneself from spiritual attack with “Rose Light.”

Since becoming a Catholic I believe that it’s best to call on God for protection, and to not play the shaman, guru or gnostic mystic on one’s own. In my view this can lead to deception and self-aggrandizement. But that’s just my opinion. I understand that many others seem to receive protection from bad vibes by invoking some kind of white or, as in this piece, rose light.

Because I agree with a lot – if not all – of what this article says, it makes today’s headline. —MC

Spiritual Expansion – What Is a Psychic Attack And How to Avoid Attacking Others


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Here’s My Take

God created us and gave us free will; then he watched as we continued to kill and hate and realized we were indeed capable of totally annihilating His creation!

Source: Here’s My Take


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Homosexuality and the Church

Portal of the Church of Pilgrims, in Washingto...

Portal of the Church of Pilgrims, in Washington, DC, with a LGBT banner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By

Homosexuality has continued to be a highly controversial topic that has proponents on both sides speaking out for and against it. As it has evolved within society, what once was a topic that was considered taboo, has now become more of an accepted societal norm. It continues to dominate headlines and receive much backlash from the Christian community. Homosexuality preexisted before the birth of Jesus. Its origins have been difficult to pinpoint by Theologians and scientists to determine what causes it. One of the biggest questions surrounding homosexuality is whether or not someone is born predisposed to it because of birth or hormonal defects or if it is a conscious decision that is made later in one’s life. According to the Bible, homosexuality is… Read full article

Remember, Earthpages is about dialogue and keeping an open mind. That means we publish and link to material that we don’t necessarily agree or disagree with. All too often people simplify complicated realities, make up their minds, and close themselves off to thinking any further on a topic. Not us!


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How to recognize a sign from God

NGC 7293, The Helix Nebula, a planetary nebula...

Helix Nebula, NGC 7293 or “The Eye of God” by NASA & ESA via Wikipedia

By Vanessa Codorniu (0riginally posted 9/30/2011)

‘We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.’― Anaïs Nin

Recently I was asked by Soul Kisses TV for my input on this question:

I always wonder how people interpret signs from God. How do you know? It’s a hard thing to describe. What do you think?-Cocoa Popps, NYC

As Iyanla Vanzant said this weekend at the recent Hay House conference ‘It all begins in the mind.’ How people interpret signs from God, a look from a stranger or even street signs on any given street, begins in each and every individual’s own mind. Therefore, before we can look at how we may interpret signs from God, we have to look at ourselves more closely.

These core beliefs that create the way we see the world are learned from our families, culture and personal experience. The key here is that they are learned and can be unlearned when they don’t serve our highest and most fabulous good.

Ask yourself: How do I see the world? What do I believe about life? Do I believe in love? Do I believe that it’s supposed to hurt? What defines success for me? What is my belief and relationship to God? The way we define anything has an impact on how we define everything. Our beliefs color our lens and our thoughts, feelings, reactions and experience will become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Do you think that you exist in a fundamentally benevolent world? Or do you believe deep in your heart that it’s a cruel, dog-eat-dog existence? Is your version of God loving and kind? Or punishing?

What we believe…is inevitably what we perceive. This will affect how we define, experience and react what we may call signs from God. For example if the world is a frightening place were there is not enough for everyone a pink slip from a job can seem to be the end of the world. It can make someone wonder/believe they if they were betrayed by a co-worker, an employer, or even God.

Another person, trusting in the Universe’s benevolence might be surprised at first, even worried and then decide that its God’s way of saying, ‘Your time here is done. Take some time off and explore options that may make you happier.’

If your worldview includes that the world will end in 2012, every earthquake, all political unrest and each piece of disturbing nightly news feeds into your belief as ‘signs’ that the world is ending. If you believe that God is kind and this Universe is benevolent you may very well notice greater kindness in the Universe, more people meditating, an overall increased spiritual awareness in the world that may be signs to you that our Earthly existence is going thru a consciousness shift rather than a ‘physical end.’

For example, I believe that I am a child of God and that the Universe is conspiring towards my outrageous success! So when it’s time for me to leave a situation, or someone calls me with an opportunity, I see it as a sign and explore it! It doesn’t mean that its not scary but I trust the Universe and while it may not look exactly the way I thought it would…my signs lead me to greater peace and joy.

How to receive and understand a sign from God:

1. Breathe deeply: Take several deep breaths. Allow yourself to truly breathe. So often we do not let ourselves breathe deeply because we fear feeling our feelings.

2. Feel however you feel: Allow yourself in this moment to just feel however you feel as you breathe deeply.

3. Allow yourself to be present: Close your eyes. Gently allow yourself to be present and release attachments to the past and worries of the future. Bring your full attention into the present moment.

4. Pray: One of my favorite prayers, ‘Dear God/Goddess/Ganesha/Great Spirit: help me to believe the truth about myself – no matter how beautiful it is!’– M. Wiederehr

5. Ask for answers: Most religions and spiritual paths express the idea, ‘Ask & you shall receive.’ One possible prayer to ask for guidance: ‘Dear God/Goddess/Great Spirit: please help me see, know, understand, and act on your signs as inspiration for my highest good.’

6. Trust: Know that as you quiet your mind, connect to yourself and open to your divine connection, that the prayers and asking has reached its sacred mark.

7. Pay attention: Watch, listen, breathe and allow yourself to be still. Is what you are sensing as a sign of God bringing you to greater peace? Is it filling you with hope? Is it unsettling in the moment because it asks that you release or let go of something that you want to hold on to? Imagine that you are brave enough to go through the changes… do you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Remember that in order to bring in what you are wanting, whether true love, great friends, new clothes or a successful career…we must be ready to let go of what no longer serves us. Not because it is ‘bad,’ simply because it has served you as well as it could and now as you are evolving, as well as the relationships, jobs and experiences that you are having.

8. Be open: Signs from the Divine come in emails, a stranger on the bus, random occurrences that are really synchronistic answers to your prayers, a dream, a commercial, a song on the elevator, Oprah, a chance meeting, an unseen break-up, your mom’s advice, your best friend’s jokes, re-runs, an inner feeling or sense, knowing things without knowing how you ‘know.’ Basically, we are in communication with God…all the time, whether we are open or not. When we are open we feel supported and connected to something greater. When we are closed, we feel disconnected, lost and sometimes abandoned.

Remember: if you don’t like the way things feel in your world…you can always change your mind!

About the Author

Vanessa Codorniu, CHt, RM is a transformation facilitator, intuition coach, Reiki Master, writer and Latina urban priestess. She is a…

 


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Repentance and Atonement for Jews and Non-Jews

treeretold by Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Her mother once gave her a bag of nails and told her that every time she lost her temper or insulted somebody she must hammer a nail into large tree in the back of their house.

The first day the girl hit 14 nails into the tree. Over the next few weeks, as she learned to control her anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled. She discovered it was easier to hold her temper than to drive those nails into the tree.

Finally the day came when the girl didn’t lose her temper at all. She told her mother about it and the mother suggested that the girl now pull out one nail for each day that she was able to hold her temper. The days passed. Finally, she told her mother that all the nails were gone.

The mother took her daughter by the hand and led her to the tree. She said, “You have done well, my daughter, but look at all the holes in the tree. This tree will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like these.” You can put a knife in a person and draw it out. It does not matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is almost as bad as a physical one.

“How can I fix thetree?” asked the girl. “Will it have to remain damaged forever?”

“Yes and no” said the mother. “Our Rabbis say that if the tree is a special tree called a tree of life, and she responds to the way you have changed, she too can change and heal herself. If the tree is not a tree of life, and is dead to the possibility of your repentance, it will carry its scars onward. The tree will never be as it was before, but she doesn’t have to become like new to be a good tree of life. If you do your part and change, and the tree of life does her part in response, God will do something wonderful.

God will promote a healing that will make you and the tree of life better. This process is called repentance and atonement. It means that the changes that come about from repentance and forgiveness lead people to higher levels of relationship than was the case before the wound took place.”

“What happens if the tree doesn’t respond?” asked the girl. “Can I ever make it whole?”

“Our rabbis say you should try on three different occasions,” said the mother, “but if the tree remains dead even after you have changed, YOU can’t force it to become whole. In that case you should fix another tree somewhere else. There are always lots of other trees that need fixing, and most of them are trees of life.

Whenever you fix a tree of life God will make something wonderful happen. That is the miracle of repentance and atonement. God always responds to our attempts to change for the good, by helping us change; and then always responds to our change for the good, by giving us new and wonderful opportunities for repentance and atonement. This is why we have a Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) ten days after the beginning of every New Year; so the New Year will be a better one than the last one.”

tree1Yom Kippur is September 23 in 2015 and everyone is invited to fix things up with the trees of life in your life.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com

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