Randy Wagner might have seemed crazy – but he knew what he was doing!
Can you imagine what life was like during the Generation of the Flood? People were going about life as usual, while a lone man spent a year building a massive ark. People would walk by and laugh, “What are you doing Noach?” they would ask. And Noach would tell them, “I’m building an ark. A flood will be coming soon and it will destroy the entire world!”
Parshat Balak tells us the story about a king ready to destroy the Jewish people. His reasoning – without any provocation or cause – based on made-up images that perhaps only a lunatic could consider. Having seen that Bnei Yisrael were successful in destroying the two kings – Sichon and Og, he imagined that he was next in line. His plan – to hire a magician to curse the Jewish people into oblivion.
Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher (1269- 12 Tammuz 1343) was one of the foundation builders of all of Jewish law as we have it today! He was the son of Rabbeinu Asher – known as the Rosh (“the Head” – an acronym for Rabbeinu ASher). The Rosh was one of the three pillars upon whom Rabbi Yosef Karo – the author of the Shulchan Aruch – would base his magnum opus. It is indeed the Shulchan Aruch which determines the majority of Jewish law today! Those wishing to become Rabbis must pass examinations showing competency in certain sections of his work. Ideally – a true Rav should be competent in the entire Shulchan Aruch! If that can be said of the Shulchan Aruch, then let us not treat lightly the words of the Chida – Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai, who said that without a proper study of the Tur and its commentaries, one cannot begin to determine Halachah!
Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam (1905-1994) – the Rebbe of Klausenberg was one of our generations greatest rabbis. He was known for his exceptional breadth of knowledge of all areas of Torah and his immense level of compassion for others.
The wisest of all men – King Solomon, teaches in his work Mishlei (Proverbs 13:12), “Hope deferred (a drawn out hope) makes the heart sick, but a desire that is realised is a tree of life!” Rashi explains this to refer to to someone who trusts in his friend to help him – but he does not; but when a desire is realised, it is like a tree of life – this refers to God who awaits for the Jewish people to return to Him (through the observance of mitzvot, the study of Torah, acts of goodness and kindness to others etc.) but they don’t return; in the end it brings them to a sickness of the heart; but when His desire is fulfilled, then it is like a tree of life to them!
Death! A word that conjures up little feelings of excitement – for most. Life – on the other hand, is the very purpose of existence. That word – when expressed in its most fullest manner, takes on feelings of joy and blessing.
A powerful motivational speech from Josh Shipp (Below). Once we are mature enough to realise the importance of others, one of our most important tasks is to take care of children, as the Torah teaches, “Where there are no kids (sic), there can be no goats” (Rashi to Isaiah 8:18). Everything about the goodness of this world begins with a child who grows up to become a success and to lead the next generation. When children are well taken care of and supported appropriately, “Educate the child according to his way; even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6), that child will grow up to become a success.