כָּל מִצְוֹתֶיךָ אֱמוּנָה שֶׁקֶר רְדָפוּנִי עָזְרֵנִי
"All your commandments are Faith" (Psalms 119:86)
וְאֵרַשְׂתִּיךְ לִי בֶּאֱמוּנָה וְיָדַעַתְּ אֶת יְהֹוָה
"I will betroth you to Me with Faith, and you will Know G-d!" (Hosea 2:22)
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Whether any of us like it or not we are still living in the Olam Hazeh, the "Old World" sinful order. Political realities matter and religious people need to have their voices heard! When we stick our heads into the sand and pretend that the world around us has no bearing on us or that we are too holy to get involved, we are only deceiving ourselves and selling our children into slavery! Spiritually we are "transcendent" perhaps, but for now we are very much the people of the fallen material earth! We are commanded in Torah to be the caretakers of this domain. The "fake news" claim that all Jews oppose Donald Trump and his attempts to restore the fallen US republic, or as he says, to "make America great again," are patently false. Many of us have been supporting him from the beginning. I got behind him a week after be declared his candidacy and I still support him (although I do not always agree with what he does). It is an outrage that the elite in BOTH parties, the media, and much of the court system are doing everything in their powers to stop him from doing what we voted him in to accomplish. This is a silent globalist coup.Mr. President, the majority of the American people are with you even if the Washington Swamp is not!
About Me: What's in a Title?
I've never been interested in titles. While I appreciate the respect and gratitude shown by many of you who have been referring to me as a rabbi for the past few years, as I've shared on Facebook many many times over the past few years, and in this "About Me" piece, I do not hold a rabbinic ordination (yet). My degrees are mainly in World Religious Studies. My religion and my practice is exclusively Judaism. To be more precise, I am an Chassidic, Breslov, Sephardi, Orthodox Jew (try saying that ten times fast! lol).
While the word "rabbi" references a Torah "teacher," and I am such, over the past many decades it has come to refer more spefically to one who holds a Jewish ordination (or smicha) from an established institution. Smicha has been done since the beginning of our holy religion, but the meaning of the term rabbi has varied, even meaning at times merely 'one who leads' in any area. I am currently enrolled in an Sephardic yeshiva (school) and working towards smicha, but am not yet a "rabbi." HaShem will determine if and when I merit the title.
As far as I'm concerned people can refer to me however they wish. A few of my rabbi friends however have encouraged me to be more insistent that I do not (yet) hold the piece of paper for the title, which I have consistently done. So, I embraced the following solution:
After discussions with a dear Breslov friend about this issue -- he is in a similar situation -- I decided to adopt the traditional Chassidic title for a person in my position and embraced the title "Reb." This traditional Yiddish title is from the same hebrew root -- רַבִּי or RaBi. Reb is "a traditional Jewish title or form of address, corresponding to "Sir," for a man who is not ordained as a rabbi (used preceding the forename or surname) -- Source. After making this change several of my rabbi, reb, and rav friends congratulated me, saying they thought it would clear up possible misunderstandings. So did I. Alas you can't please everyone. When I was accepted into the yeshiva our Rosh Yeshiva (head of the school) notified me that he does not like me using this title. So, until my smicha is attained I am again just Shlomo. Oi! I don't care what anyone calls me at this point, just be nice
Some things have become very clear to me over the years, but my quest is not yet over. I am not so presumptuous as to proclaim myself a "master," however I have learned much and realized some. Part of my personal derech (path) includes assisting others in their quests. I am here to help as I can.
My principle Path is Chassidus, Hasidic Judaism, I focus on the teachings and examples of all of the Jewish masters, especially the BESHT (the Baal Shem Tov) and Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. I am a member of Der Alte Weg Chassidus. Rebbe Aryel Nachman ben Chaim is my Rebbe. Ahuva and I are members of his House of Seven Beggars as well as a local shul.
If my efforts here at AllFaith.com and/or my social media outlets bless you, then I am happy. But honestly, if they don't, I am still happy! True happiness comes from devekut: i.e. from attachment to G-d alone. Devekut through emunah (i.e. active faith and trust) has always been my preferred Derech (Path) to the Eternal, and the Eternal One has always been both my Source and my Destination.
I am an independent minded Saphardic Jew and member of Der Alte Weg Chassidus (i.e. "the Old Way Chassidus" of the Baal Shem Tov zt’l). Chassidus is a traditional Jewish Path that deals with a wide range of spiritual concepts including the way of G-d, Torah, Talmud, the soul, Kabbalah, mysticism, and so on. It is practiced by both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews. For some practioners Chassidus means hyper-observance, going well beyond what is required by halacha. That is not my Chassidus nor do I believe it was that of the BESHT. At its heart, Chassidus is all about emunah -- active faith and trust in HaShem alone. Chassidus develops devekut, attachment to G-d like no other system I have found. This approach provides an understandable, practical expression to our ancient teachings. Chassidus is as potent today as it have ever been, perhaps even more so.
Seek the Eternal ONE and become the YOU HaShem created you to be! Only in that way you will come to know G-d. Knowing G-d, you will know Joy.
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל חשם אֱלֹהֵינוּ חשם אֶחָד
Sh'ma Yisra'el HaShem Eloheinu HaShem Eḥad
"Hear Y'israel, HaShem is our G-d, HaShem is ONE"
Please note that AllFaith.com is completely independent of the various groups I associate with. The views expressed here are my own understandings and do not necessarily reflect those of anyone else. Likewise, the views of the various groups I associate with do not always express mine. Please refrain from making assumptions about my beliefs and practices until you get to know me. If you have questions, ask me. In many ways I'm not your average Chassid. Heck, I'm not even your average Jew! But then... few Jews are when you get to know them!
On some political, social, and a few religious topics I am more "liberal," while on others issues I am more conservative/orthodox. For those who want labels. I am an Sephardic Chassidic Jew. We are members of a local Conservative shul because it fits us better than the other local options. I am quite independent in my outlook and do not travel in lockstep with anyone nor with any group within or without of Jewish Orthodoxy. As I noted, I dislike the misleading existence of Jewish movments. To me, a Jew is a Jew. HaShem is my only authority, the rabbis and sages are my advisors and counselors.
I am a committed Religious Zionist.
Without supporting the Nation and Land of Israel, our eternal Homeland, one can not honestly claim to be loyal to our Holy Scriptures, Traditions, People, or Religion in my opinion. Far too many Jews today, even some rabbis (both Orthodox and non-Orthodox), are turning against Israel and thereby betraying the Hope of the Redemption. The Hope of Zion is the bedrock of Judaism and our people. Judaism and Zionism can not be separated.
Of course, I'm not naive. The secular government of Israel today is far from perfect. The Israel that now is is not the Israel that will be during the reign of HaMashiach ben David (may those days come soon and within our lifetimes). There are many things I wish were different there. Among these, I wish it were made possible for all Jews to return Home and live there. For far too many of us aliyah is not an option due to financial constraints. HOWEVER I stand firmly and immovably with Israel, even as I beg HaShem to transform the Nation of the Jews into a truly Jewish Nation (to paraphrase Moshe Feiglin) as described by our holy prophets and teachers.
If I can be of assistance to you, let me know.
Why Are There So Many Different Jewish Groups
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The Writings of the Ranbach, my Rebbe (Rabbi Aryel Nachman ben Chaim)
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My Path is Rabbinic Judaism. I have studied all of the world's religions in depth
and have confirmed, to my satisfaction, that there is no greater Divine Revelation than Torah
and the Path it presents. I walk this path as a Sephardic Chassid.
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