Morals Without G-d?

Rabbi Mendel Bluming serves the community as the Rabbis of the Chabad Shul of Potomac and is often challenged with this question.

Here’s a thought created on Jewish philosophy:

Good is only good for G-d chose it to be. G-d is not chained by anything, and could have chosen otherwise. He could have written “Thou shalt steal,” and “Do not help the poor and needy.” Helping our elders across the street would be the wrong thing to do, but mugging them would be desired.

Now you may say, anyone with a healthy conscience knows that to steal is morally repugnant and helping the needy is a righteous and upright deed. But our conscience is created by G-d also. If morality would be inverted, we would be wired in that direction. Luckily for all those old ladies trying to cross the street in the world, G-d chose the other way around.

Does this mean good isn’t truly good? Is morality nothing more than a whimsical imagination? Not at all. Only humans are impulsive and arbitrary. G-d is absolute. Good is absolutely as reality not because it feels good to me but because the Absolute One made it so. Morality is defined by the infinite model of G-d, not the finite nature of human feelings.

The real quandary is this: without G-d, how can anything be good or evil? Who becomes the decision maker? That’s a really good question

Rabbi Mendel Bluming and Rabbi Moss

Menachem Bluming asks Do You Trust Your First Impressions of Others?

There is a known theory that we can gather all we need to know about a person in the first few seconds of greeting them. It is a great theory. There is only one problem with it. It is just a theory 🙂

A person is bigger than meets the eye. We are complicated. We have thoughts and feelings, memories and desires, quirks and foibles. We all have a story and we all have a soul. You can’t notice all this at first glance.

How many times have you been impressed by someone’s at first, only to be disappointed later? And vice versa, how many people have you been pleasantly surprised by after getting to know them better? Even looks are deceiving. A person who you don’t find attractive at first can grow on you as their full picture unravels.

I am sure you would support me in saying that no one can know what you are all about by meeting you once. So give the same treatment to others. Don’t always trust your instincts. They can certainly lead you astray.

Menachem Mendel Bluming and Rabbi Moss

Menachem Bluming on why a Kohen Does not Marry a Convert

A convert can marry a king. A convert can marry a prophet. A convert can even marry a rabbi, the highest echelon of Jewish society (if you ask me :). So it makes no sense to say that a convert can’t marry a cohen because they are second class citizens. There must be some other reason.

Here’s a thought for your consideration:
When the Torah forbids a marriage, it is never because one party is not good enough for the other. It is because both parties are not matched to each other. They are simply not soulmates. In the case of the cohen and the convert, their soul dynamics clash, their spiritual energies contradict, and so they can’t marry.

The holiness of a cohen is hereditary. If your father is a cohen, then you are a cohen. Priesthood is a birthright that is not achieved through a person’s effort nor deserved through a person’s righteousness. It is an honor that is bestowed at birth.

The holiness of a convert is the exact opposite. It is completely earned. The convert was not born Jewish. They chose it. They achieve Jewishness of their own initiative and with their own hard work. They are self-made souls.

So these two souls, the cohen and the convert, are moving in opposite ways. The cohen receives their power from above. The convert creates their own soul energy from below. The cohen has the ability to bring down blessings to others, just as their soul was given to them as a blessing. The convert has the power of innovation, of initiative, of creating holiness from the ground up. They are going different directions. For this reason their souls are not a match.

Both the cohen and the convert have awesome holiness. It is a great privilege to be gifted with the soul of a cohen. And yet, the self-made soul of a convert has a depth of experience that inherited holiness cannot compete with. Neither are second class souls.

The cohen is crowned with a legacy from past generations. A convert creates their own legacy for future generations. The Jewish people is richer for both of them.

Rabbi Mendel Bluming and Rabbi Moss

Proud Humility

Rabbi Mendel Bluming leads the Chabad Shul of Potomac and opens the door to even the youngest children to come and hear the 10 commandments being read on the upcoming Shavuot holiday.

The Medrash teaches, that at the time when G-d gave us the Torah He decided to do so on Mount Sinai rather than on a taller mountain in order to teach humility, a core value of Judaism. Well then, why wasn’t the Torah given in a valley?

The Rebbe teaches that at the same time that humility is very important it must not negate pride. Pride in Jewish observance and in being a Jew.

Join Menachem Mendel Bluming or wherever you may be and make sure to be there when the 10 commandments are read out loud and stand proud to humbly receive the Torah this Shavuot. Chag sameach!

Menachem Bluming muses why you have no time

Do you struggle with time? Do you feel like you don’t have enough time and years fly by? Jewish holidays never seem to come on time 🙂
Time torments everyone.

Torah empowers us to transform time. How? Repentance makes amendments to our past, Shabbat transforms time into a holy time, Yom Tov too etc

Make time an ally!

Menachem Mendel Bluming

Menachem Bluming supports you in finding a kabbalist who can cure anxiety!

I know a kabbalist who could help. His name is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. He lived just under two thousand years ago, but his light still shines today.

In his esoteric masterpiece, called the Zohar, he has an understanding and if you internalize it, it may bring you the energy you need. He writes:

During the Friday night prayers, as Shabbos enters, the energy of the world goes higher into the supernal realm, and all negativity and harshness is cut away. All winds of anger and opposition flee and disappear. No foreign power reigns, the world is covered in a divine light, which shines on the holy people on earth, who are crowned with fresh souls.

Rabbi Shimon is describing the spiritual shift that happens as we welcome in the Shabbos. We are not just desisting from our daily jobs, we are lifting ourselves to a higher plane, a place where there is only kindness and light and holiness, where our soul is free from the torments of the mundane lives, and when we are given a fresh burst of soul energy.

The Friday night prayers are the start of this journey. The songs and prayers transport us to this inner space of deep happiness. We actually quote the above passage in the prayers. If you close your eyes and let yourself be uplifted by the moment, you may actually feel yourself being elevated to this peaceful place.

There are no magical answers. Continue your therapy, and also do the spiritual therapy of Shabbos. Both will require work. But you can get there. You are one of those holy people who can be crowned with a fresh soul, every Shabbos.

Menachem Mendel Bluming, Rabbi Moss based on Zohar II 135b, Kegavna from Siddur Friday night service

Menachem Bluming Considers is Divorce a Mistake?

We all have free choice. We can marry Mr Wrong, or divorce Mr Right. We have to take accountability for choosing a partner, even if things didn’t work out.
However, when a marriage ends in divorce, it’s not to say that it was not supposed to be in the first place. Together with the belief in free choice, we also believe that whatever happened in the past was supposed to happen. And so you wed the person you were destined to marry. It was meant to be. And in retrospect it was destined to end.

This is the paradox of faith: What I am about to do is my freedom. Once I have done it, it was meant to happen. I am responsible for my actions. I made the bed, and I am required to sleep in it. But now that I did, I couldn’t have slept anywhere else.

As painful as the experience may have been, your divorce was integral to your soul’s mission. We can only guess why.
It is possible that the ill-fated marriage was a rectification for something in a past life. It could be you have a soulmate from your former incarnation that you didn’t marry the first time around, as well as a soulmate from your current incarnation, and so you have to wed both.

Perhaps you were required to bring a child into the world who otherwise would not have been created.

Or perhaps it was a necessary step in your journey of learning, bringing you closer to your true self, and your real soulmate.

Who knows?
We don’t take it lightly when divorce happens. It is a tragic last resort when all other attempts to mend a toxic marriage have failed. And sometimes it isn’t in your hands. But if it has happened, you have to trust that this is your soul’s direction. May G-d give you the strength and wisdom to navigate the next step on that path…

Menachem Mendel Bluming and Rabbi Moss

Menachem Bluming Muses on What Makes Jews Unique

Jews do odd things sometimes. One example is the known practice of “credit combing.”
Many Jews have a habit of combing through the names at the end of a movie, searching for Jewish names. At each discovery they shine with pride:

Look! Assistant Gaffer…….Marvin Goldstein! Catering Consultant……..Beth Cohen!

This strange practice comes from a very deep place in the Jewish essence. Jews share a spiritual union with each other. If I meet a Jew- it doesn’t matter where, there is an immediate connection, a kinship, a sense of oneness. We are like one vast family, and even closer than that.

If Jews are in the news, we each take it personally. When Israel is being attacked, we feel the pain wherever we are. When a Jew wins a bronze medal in baseball, we all share the victory. And when we pick out a Jewish name in the credits, we get excited.

Maybe other nations do this as well. But I don’t think so. This strong sense of connection makes the Jewish nation unique among other religions.

This is the reason why data cannot apply to the Jewish people. No Jew is only an individual. We are a collective soul, a slice of something bigger than ourselves. We may be a tiny blip on the radar, but we don’t work by the usual rules of demography. Our strength is not measured by our numbers, but by our oneness.

The destiny of the Jewish nation is to be a strong voice of goodness and decency among the family of nations. When we unite with our community and commit ourselves to the shared mission of our people, then we are a formidable existence. Not because we are one billion, but because we are one.

Menachem Mendel Bluming, Rabbi Moss and Chabad.org

Menachem Bluming Sounds off on “Why Smile ?”

Your face is not just your business. It is public property. You only have to look at your own face once briefly in the morning. Everyone else has to look at your face all day. So just because you are in a bad mood or going through a rough patch, doesn’t mean everyone else has to be brought down too. The people around you deserve to be greeted with a pleasant face.
Of course, smiling is not only for the benefit of others, but for your own benefit too. The number one cause of misery is not life’s troubles but rather self-absorption. The more you think about yourself and your predicament, the more you marinate in self-pity, the more miserable you become.

On the other hand, when you look outside of yourself, look around you and see how you can be of service to others, when you smile not because you are in the mood but because others deserve to be smiled at, you start to feel upbeat and light again.
This is not to say that there are never any real reasons to be sad, or that smiling is a magical cure for depression. The point is that smiling is a duty you have to others. And when you focus on your duties rather than your difficulties, you are on the road to happiness.

So Smile 🙂

Menachem Mendel Bluming, Rabbi Moss and Chabad.org