Once Upon A Time...
By HaRav Ariel Bar Tzadok. Copyright (C) 2006 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All
“Once upon a time,” these are the words used to introduce a tale, or to
tell a story. Yet, some stories are more real than others. Some stories
relate facts from the past. These stories are called history. Other
stories relate messages that are alive and present. These stories are
History speaks to the intellect and can serve as a valuable rational
tool to help us make proper choices today based upon the mistakes made
in the past. Legends speak to the heart and serve to mold our inner
character and inspire us to greater achievements. Legends too help us
make proper choices today, but not based upon past mistakes, but rather
on the inner awareness of knowing what is right, good and proper.
Our Torah, TaNaKh, Gemara, Zohar and more all contain the legends of
Israel. Many of the stories within this great wealth of literature are
literal history, and many others are not. The factual historicity of
Torah is absolutely irrelevant. The Torah was not given to us to relate
historical affairs. The Torah is not an historical document. Our Sages
have always been quite clear about this. While the Torah does contain an
element that speaks to the mind, the true essence of Torah, as expressed
by our Sages throughout Jewish history, speaks instead to the heart.
Legend, not history, relevance, not a mere rendition of past facts.
In recent centuries, however the minds and outlook of many a Sage has
changed from the old ways. Instead of sharing legend, many a leader has
arisen who are academics and philosophers, masters of intellect and
rational, who at the same time, have lost the inner meaning of the
legend and thus have lost much of the very essence of Torah.
These esteemed Sages have grown accustomed to educate the public using
intellectually stimulating lessons calling upon numerous quotes from
various holy sources to validate the strength of their arguments. While
this approach may be well and good in establishing the legal precedents
for the establishments of Torah Law, this is not the way the address
moral issues of character. This way builds laws, it does not create
legends. This way convinces the mind, but has not the ability to reach
The Truth of Torah is at the center of every true Jewish soul. The truth
is not something you have to be convinced of, nor is it something you
should have to be shown.
Your intellect should not have to be convinced of the truth of a thing
using some appealing words in a sermon, on the contrary, your heart
should recognize truth regardless of whatever words are used or not used
to describe it.
Often the message of Truth gets lost in the very words being used to
describe it. In my opinion, it is all too often the case that the many
words and sermons used to teach about truth have themselves become the
very hindrance to recognizing the truth.
Truth resides in the Heart. This is because the Torah resides in the
heart. Do you really need me to quote a pasuk to convince you that this
is true, or do you already know deep within you the truth of this, with
or without the words of a pasuk to convince you? Do not take my word for
it! How about taking your own word for it, the Word of HaShem that is
speaking within you right now.
Silence your chaotic mind and indeed, you will hear the inner voice,
often heard just as a whisper speaking within you. When you finally do
hear it, that inner whisper will become so loud within your conscience
that you too will no longer need an outside voice to steer your course
You will know what do and how to do it for HaShem will be your guide.
Your own inner awareness will guide you to a regular Halakha class for
you will know within yourself the value of living according to Torah Law
and how you need to learn how to do this. No one will need convince you
of how important this is, you already know this. You need only learn the
mechanics of what to do, not be impressed with intellectual arguments
why to do it!
This is the difference between the one who has fulfilled the pasuk to
place Torah upon one’s heart and one who has not. But you did not need
for me to reference this pasuk to you to convince you of this, because
you already knew this with or without the pasuk. Mentioning the pasuk
only proves that which you already know.
Life in the real world flows a natural course. Even that which we call
supernatural or spiritual is itself just the source and cause of the
natural. Therefore, knowledge and awareness of the natural way of things
grants us insights into their spiritual sources and counterparts. This
enlightenment is what brings us closer to experiencing the Presence of
One learns natural law through the process of observance. Throughout
Torah, our prophets and Sages spent great lengths of time out in nature
so that they could accumulate experience of the natural world and with
the power of the Torah engrained within their hearts come to recognize
the Hidden Hand of G-d in all natural acts. This is how sacred holy men
such as Nahum Ish Gamzu were able to look upon any occurrence and
recognize the good, within it. His consciousness was able to recognize
the Hidden Hand of G-d and then by his positive attitude he was able to
make the proper choices of behavior to unleash the hidden Light and
reveal the Hand of G- d out in the open.
Rightly did our Sages say that the lives of our forefathers serve as
role models for their children. The stories of the past are far more
than mere historical events. They are archetypes, legends, role models
and examples that we are to follow. The experiences of the past are the
same as the present and the future.
Therefore, the stories of the past are not just lessons about what
happened then. They are living stories about now, about you and me. This
is what makes Torah legendary. Torah’s stories are our stories. They are
eternally relevant and true. These legends have never been meant to be
understood as having only historical meanings, irrelevant to us today
and thus worthy of our ignoring them. No, Torah legends lives forever,
more than this; it is Life itself!
We do not need extensive commentaries to tell our minds how to interpret
these events. Rather, we need to be more like children and embrace the
awe and wonder of a story, with simplicity and faith. After all, the
entire Torah is summed up as the righteous living by faith. This is
Our present society is unfortunately fundamentally sick. For centuries
now, western civilization and the Jewish communities within it have
become infected with a disease of rationalism. While there is nothing
wrong and everything right in being rational, nonetheless, rationality
is not the end-all of human consciousness. This is a sound and known
psychological fact taught by our Torah since Sinai and even echoed in
the words of modern psychiatrists.
Carl Jung, the founder of Analytical Psychology and associate of non
less than Sigmund Freud himself wrote (CW 13, 7), “The intellect does
indeed do harm to the soul, when it dares to possess itself of the
heritage of the spirit. It is in no way fitted to do this, for spirit is
something higher than intellect, since it embraces the latter, and
includes feelings, as well. It is a guiding principle of life that
strives towards super-human shining heights."
Western society has taught its citizens to be half- brained, to be
rational and to dismiss anything other as irrational, and thus as not
real, bad and wrong. As such, religion, which is founded upon faith and
legend, has been delegated to the trash heap of history. The proud
western rationalist proclaims himself a secularist, emancipated from the
myths and fairy tales of primitive and stupid religion. Yes indeed, this
is what secularism teaches and this is exactly how many secularists
feel, believe and publicly proclaim.
What is amusing about this is that secularism and rationalism are
themselves faiths and stories based upon as much an irrational
foundation as are simplistic interpretations of religious stories.
Rationalism and secularism proclaim their correctness and seek converts
to their causes with the self same vigor and conviction of all the
proselytizing religions throughout history. But enough about current
events and the ways of the world.
We cannot change the world, nor should we try. It is the job of Heaven
to change the world, so let us stay focused on what we have to do and
let Heaven do G- d’s work. Our job is to change ourselves and by doing
so serving as role models to assist others in achieving higher
consciousness to enable them to also better their lives. While we do not
change the world, we do indeed change our little portion of it. This is
why we are here. This is what we are destined to do.
“And these words that I command you this day shall be upon your
hearts” (Dev. 6:6). There, I have given you a quote. Do not run now
to seek all the numerous commentaries to it. Simply allow it to sink
into your head until it reaches your heart. Start to use your heart, the
place where Torah is supposed to be. Stop thinking so much about how to
do this, and just start doing it. Certainly, you will make
Know the Torah, embrace the legend. Facts of the past do not matter.
What is history or metaphor does not matter. What matters is the lesson,
embrace the lesson and you will know the Torah. Know the Torah and you
will glimpse the Face of its Master, the Creator, HaShem.
What more than this is there to do? So while the world burns around us,
pay it no mind. Instead, pay attention to this. Save you, it will. Teach
this to others, by example, not by rote. Save them, it will. What more
than this is there to do? Ask HaShem, I am sure He will lead to you to
understand and know the right direction.
Life is a long road and only HaShem knows the way. This is another
psychological truth learned from religion. Jung (CW 7-72) himself said
it eloquently, "Direction in life is not a simple straight line, fate
confronts us like an intricate labyrinth, all too rich in possibilities
and yet of these possibilities only one is the right way."
Let us conclude with the legendary words of the Sage Hillel, who once
upon a time said, Zil Gamar, now, go do it.
Now That I Have Your Attention...
First, let me thank you all for inviting me into your lives and allowing
me to share with you my thoughts and feelings, even as HaShem has
revealed things to me.
If you are among my regular readers, then you know my passion about how
much I truly wish to awaken the sleepers among us, to enable people to
discover the true secrets of that which makes life better and most
worthy of living.
I started my Yeshiva close to 20 years ago specifically to teach people
how to connect spiritually. As I taught over the years, I too found
myself learning many new things. I have endeavored to incorporate into
my essays and other lessons the wisdom I have received.
Sometimes the most profound lesson is the one that is most simple.
Sometimes the most direct approach is the one that is easiest.
Sometimes we can flow like the course of a river and sometimes we must
shoot straight as the arrow.
Sometimes, like now, I need to ask you for your financial support for
our organization so that I can continue to do my work in serving you and
the many others who study with us.
Money, money, money! Some people make you feel ever so small because you
solicit funds. Sorry, I refuse to feel small.
I am not embarrassed to ask for that which I need. This is one of those
lessons of wisdom I have learned over the years.
I have specifically structured our organization to serve as an online
yeshiva. While I do offer public and private classes here in the So.
Cal. area, my major emphasis is not geographically limited. This way I
can reach out to you, wherever you are on earth.
And you would be very surprised to know just who is reading these words
and where in the world they are.
I am honored to be a part of your life, however small or great. Yet, as
much as I give to you, however small or great, guess what? What goes
around must come around!
All year long, I give to you a Torah education free of charge. Now it is
time for you to extend to me a token of your appreciation.
I thank G-d that I have my regular supporters without whom we would not
be able to communicate together. Yet, the burden of my support MUST NOT
be entirely upon their shoulders. This is not right, nor fair.
Each of us receives and therefore each of us must give. So, please, let
me be blunt (as if I have not been already).
I am asking every one of you reading this now to click on the link
below. It opens up our donations page.
Please, donate an amount you consider appropriate to the value of the
material KosherTorah has provided for you over this last year.
You can donate an amount as small as $26.00 (for HaShem’s Name) up to
I really do need your support and I am not going to jump through hoops
and placate you with wise arguments and emotional tugs on your heart to
get you to do the right thing.
All year long, I ask you to do the right thing. Now is the time, I ask
you to do right by me.
I am thanking you in advance because I believe in you... whether or not
you believe in yourselves.
Click below, now, do not wait, you know what happens when you wait...
Do not be cheap! I am not cheap with you, please honor me and
reciprocate with generosity.
Thanks again. I will extend my Shana Tova blessings as we get closer to
Shalom, HaRav Ariel Bar Tzadok