Judaism in a Blogshell

This past Rosh Hoshana, I wanted to be able to give over the general framework of Judaism in a short time. So, I wrote this piece. Thanks to David and my brother-in-law Bruce for their editing efforts. Please help me further enhance this piece with your questions and comments below. Thanks.

The Plan (Derech Hashem)
– The nature of one who is good is to give.
– G-d, who is the ultimate goodness, created man in order to give to man pleasure.
– The greatest gift possible for man is to have an awareness of, and a relationship with G-d.
– In order to increase the value and pleasure of this gift, G-d wanted man to develop this awareness and relationship through man’s own free will.

The Environment and Means (Mesillas Yesharim)
– G-d created man with an eternal soul, that is the part of man most G-d like and most capable of goodness.
– G-d also gives us a strong sense of self in the intellectual realm and strong sensory facilities.
– G-d created the physical world as the place in which man would develop the soul.
– The goal is to increase our awareness of G-d and develop our character/soul through our choices and mitzvos.

The Problem (Avos: Three things take us out of this world…)
– Our sense of self and accomplishment often makes us honor ourselves instead of G-d.
– Physical pursuits mask our awareness of G-d and lead us towards a physical existence instead of a spiritual one.
– Self-centeredness makes us envious and possessive and inhibits strong personal relationships by focusing us on ourselves rather than the other person.

The Solution (Avos: The world stands on three things…)
– The Torah and the mitzvos enable us to go beyond physical egocentricity towards a spiritually centered existence.
– Acts of Kindness help us focus on other people thereby reducing our self-centeredness.
– Prayer reduces our self-centeredness by giving us a G-d centered orientation.
– The Jewish people were chosen to implement the solution at its highest level with the 613 mitzvos.
– The rest of the nations have 7 mitzvos to best develop their G-d awareness.

Implementation (Six Constant Mitzvos)
– We must align our thought processes with our emotions, since the emotions are the prime influence on actions.
– We must increase our belief in G-d, not believe in other forces and realize that “good” and “bad” both come from G-d.
– We increase our emotional connection to G-d through love and we increase our respect for His greatness through awe and fear.
– When our emotions are properly aligned, our actions will follow suit and we will fulfill our personal and global missions.

Fundamental Beliefs (Rambam: 13 Principals)
– G-d, the Creator of the universe is: complete, total unity, non-physical, eternal and the object of all prayers.
– G-d communicates with man. Moshe’s prophecy was unique. The entire Torah was given by G-d and is unchangeable.
– G-d knows our thoughts and deeds and will reward and correct us appropriately. The Messiah will come to help bring the world to its completion. The dead will be resurrected in a new world of physical and spiritual perfection.

Focus (Avos: Who is Rich..)
– We should become wise by learning from everybody.
– We should consider ourselves rich by appreciating all the blessings we have.
– We should consider ourselves powerful when we rule over our own desires and not when we control others.
– We should avoid honor and instead look for the greatness in every human being and acknowledge and praise it.

Other Ideas(Various Sources)
– We should distance ourselves from anger.
– Our focus should be on our individual mission and we should avoid comparisons with others.
– When we meet any person we should ask ourselves two questions: 1. What can I Give to him/her? 2. What can I Learn from him/her?
– Pleasure comes from our appreciation of the unity, completeness and connection of all the things in this world.
– Happiness comes when we work on completing ourselves and help bring the world closer to its perfection and unity.

4 comments on “Judaism in a Blogshell

  1. Mark,

    Brilliant post! It ought to be printed out on little cards. Or medium sized cards so the print’s not too small. You’ll understand when you’re my age. But cards, yes! Very well done.

  2. A pure and ünadulterated dose of àdderall XR (extended release) for the soul,complete with 20 Mg’s for smooth evening focus.That pleasure/happiness concept is brilliant as is the rest of the post.Thanks for the abridged/ crystal clear version of complicated stuff.

  3. Mark,
    Great work. Of course my favorite is
    “- When we meet any person we should ask ourselves two questions: 1. What can I Give to him/her? 2. What can I Learn from him/her?” with the reference to Rav Dessler and the Mussar movement.

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