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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 19, 2006 / 21 Iyar, 5766

Bonding or Bondage

By Rabbi David Aaron


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Why Serve the Divine?


“For unto Me the children of Israel are servants; they are My servants who I took out of the land of Egypt; I am the Lord G-d.”

                       — Leviticus 25:55

There is an Eastern teaching that proclaims, "Be here and now." Torah however would say, "Serve G-d here and now." Indeed, this is the fullest experience of life.

The Kabbalah teaches that G-d wants to be present in the here and now, and our job is to serve G-d in that desire. Therefore, to serve G-d means to infuse each moment with the presence of G-d. In other words, I must always ask myself, "How can I serve G-d right now?"

If right now I am with my friend, spouse or child, I should see this moment as an opportunity to show him/her love and thus serve G-d, who is the source of all love. It's not my love. I didn't invent love. I didn't create love and I didn't give it its' power and meaning. Love did not start with me and love will not end with me. I am not the master of love but I am the servant of love and when I love someone I am serving to make G-d's love present in the here and now.

My service to G-d (who wants to be present in this world in the here and the now) is to channel His love, compassion, justice, wisdom or whatever divine value the moment calls for — present in this moment. That is fully living. The goal of life is to serve G-d here and now, to be present in this moment.

Torah teaches that there is no greater joy in life than to serve G-d. G-d wants to be present in this world through you and me. To live G-d's purpose is to serve. This is our ultimate reward, accomplishment and ecstasy. This is the meaning of our existence on earth and this is the key to happiness.

SURRENDER AND SERENITY
G-d conscious people are not self-consciousness. They are completely absorbed in the moment in their service to G-d; they become one with G-d and feel ecstasy.

If you are playing Frisbee and you ask yourself, "Am I having fun?" then you are definitely not having fun because it means that you are not fully absorbed in the moment. If you are sitting by the sea, listening to the enchanting sound of the waves, and you ask yourself, "Am I experiencing serenity and inner peace now?" then you are definitely not because you are not fully present. You could not be fully there if you could ask the question.

The highest expression of pleasure is what is described in Jewish mysticism as Betul HaYesh — the negation of being self-consciousness. If I am self-conscious, then I am not completely absorbed in the service of the moment. When you are reading a good book, are you aware that you are reading a good book? No, you are just reading a good book. And when you are praying, how do you know that you are praying well? When you simply can't ask yourself the question, "Am I praying well?"

A story about a young yeshiva student illustrates this point well. The youngster used to pray with so much enthusiasm that he would stomp his feet without realizing it. Normally, this would pose no problem. But the boy had a lame foot. One day, his rabbi's wife said to her husband, "Please tell the youngster not to stomp his lame foot because he could really aggravate his malady."

The rabbi said to her, "If I thought he knew which foot he was stomping, I would tell him. But he's in such a state of ecstasy, so completely absorbed in his prayers and service, that he doesn't even know he's stomping on his bad foot."

TO SERVE WITH JOY
People think that serving G-d is demeaning; servitude implies a slave-master relationship. But that is not the real meaning of serving G-d. The opportunity to serve G-d is the greatest gift we could ever imagine. It's empowering. To serve G-d means that we can do something on behalf of G-d. It's an unbelievable honor!

The Talmud teaches that if you come close to fire, you will be warm, and that the servant who comes close to the king partakes in royalty.

I've been at the home of some very, very wealthy people. I always find it so interesting that the various workers in the home — gardeners, caterers, hairdressers, and so on — live in the mansion with their boss, eat the same food, and enjoy the use of the same facilities like the pool, sauna, and Jacuzzi during their breaks.

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The servants in the palace in many ways enjoy the life of royalty. And they are privy to seeing the king in private moments. They even see the king in his pajamas. They come the closest and thereby enjoy the most intimate encounters with the king.

Working for G-d is not a diminishing experience. On the contrary, it's the greatest elevation of status. If I build my business for my own sake, to make money for me, it is really nothing special. But if I build my business for G-d's sake, if I look at what I do and ask myself how can I promote G-d's purpose in this world — how can I bring more love, peace, kindness, justice, and wisdom into the world, how can I be an instrument serving to reveal divine qualities and ideals in the world — it's an unbelievable opportunity! This is the secret to a profoundly meaningful and fulfilling life.

There's a striking line in a song by Bob Dylan: "You're gonna have to serve somebody." Everybody's serving somebody. There's nobody in this world that isn't serving something or somebody else. The question is not "To serve or not to serve?" The question is "Whom to serve?"

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If my life is dedicated to gaining approval from certain people, then I am always less than they are. But if my life is dedicated to G-d, then the sky's the limit to my self-worth. There is no greater mission waiting for me. There is nothing higher.

Our purpose on earth is not about making a lot of money. If it is, then the T-shirt slogan is right: "The one who dies with the most toys wins." But Kabbalah teaches that we have come to this world to perform the ultimate service — a mission that elevates and brings sacredness to all of life.

Life without a service of a higher purpose is no life at all. A person who wakes up in the morning and has nothing sacred to do will wonder after a while, "Do I really make a difference? Does my life really matter?"


For more on this topic see "The Secret Life of G-d: Discovering the Divine within you"

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JWR contributor Rabbi David Aaron is the founder and dean of Isralight, an international organization with programming in Israel, New York South Florida, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Toronto. He has taught and inspired thousands of Jews who are seeking meaning in their lives and a positive connection to their Jewish roots.

He is the author of the newly released, The Secret Life of G-d, and Endless Light: The Ancient Path of Kabbalah to Love, Spiritual Growth and Personal Power , Seeing G-d and Love is my religion. (Click on links to purchase books. Sales help fund JWR.) He lives in the old City of Jerusalem with his wife and their seven children.



© 2005, Rabbi David Aaron