Rabbi's Blog

Lessons From a New Moon

Living with the moon, we learn how darkness can give birth to light and how absence can generate renewed presence.

This Friday night we usher in a new moon. In Judaism, the new moon is the beginning of a new Hebrew month. The Jewish calendar is predicated upon the lunar, 29.5-day cycle in which the moon, as perceived by an observer on earth, completes its revolution around the earth.
Thus, the Jewish calendar is measured by the duration of time from one new moon to the next. Twelve such months add up to a year of approximately 354 days. This is eleven days short of the 365.25-day solar cycle of seasons. To compensate the Jewish year alternates between 12 and 13 months, the extra month (added seven times in a 19-year cycle) serves to align the lunar months with the solar cycle.

The new month is the night on which the moon is first visible after its monthly disappearance from our nighttime sky (hence the Hebrew word for month, chodesh, from the root chadash, new). The month consists of 29 or 30 days, until the next new moon marks the onset of a new month. The first half of the Jewish month is thus marked by a nightly growing moon, which reaches its full luminescent potential on the 15th night; by the 16th night the moon has already begun to diminish, and continues to shrink nightly until another new moon and month are born.
These repeated cycles of growing and diminishing are what yield the unique qualities of lunar time. Living with the moon, we learn how darkness can give birth to light and how absence can generate renewed presence. From the cycle of the moon we can learn to exploit the momentum of our descents so that we may scale new and unprecedented heights.

On a deeper level, the moon has a commonality with mankind. Man is unique among G-d's creations in that he alone is a journeyer through life. All other creations, including the loftiest of spiritual beings are stationary "standers." A "stander" is not necessarily immobile; indeed, all things possess, to some degree or other, the potential for development and advancement. But these creations move in a state of pre-ordained limits, which they cannot transcend. Only the human being is lunar, with a trajectory through life, which includes both growth and decline, obliteration and rebirth.
For man alone possesses the power of free choice -- a power as potent as it is lethal, as infinite as it is constricting. With free choice comes the capacity for utter self-destruction, and the capacity for utter self-transformation. Man has the power to negate everything he is and stands for, and in the next moment, to re-create himself in a new mold and embark on a path that his prior existence could never have anticipated.

Like the vacuum, which draws liquid into a syringe, it is the voids and absences of life that compel its greatest achievements and fulfillment. This is the essence of lunar time, oblivion as the harbinger of renewal and darkness as the impetus for reborn light.

Adapted from a teaching of the Rebbe, courtesy of Rabbi Simon Jacobson from

Happy Purim, Malibu

 A Purim celebration is set for Sunday in Malibu.

Purim, the most celebratory holiday in Judaism, begins at sundown this Saturday. It is considered the happiest day of the Jewish calendar. For the last 2,369 years Jewish people traditionally dress in costume and rejoice by feasting and drinking wine on Purim.

The story of Purim has a diabolical plot designed to annihilate the Jewish people. It even has a mystery queen and an ancient-day Ahmadinejad. However, the story of Purim had a happy ending and the evil scheme did not succeed. To read the full story of Purim online click here

It is said that all great novels are rooted in the Bible. As you read the story of Purim, you may even be reminded of the plot of a favorite movie or television show.  Thus, as in every Jewish holiday, themes are universal and extend to other religions or even beyond religion. Interestingly, the only biblical story that does not make any mention of G-d, is the book of Esther, which is the story of Purim. 

In the days that preceded Purim the Jewish people faced their own destruction. Hamen, the ancient day version of Ahmadinejad, had obtained the King Achashverosh’s permission to kill all of the Jews of the empire. At that time of this horrible decree, the Jewish identity of the queen was known to only a few and all the Jews in the world lived in Achashverosh's kingdom (what is now known as modern day Iraq). 

It is hard to imagine how the Jewish people must have felt living each day knowing the end was near. Yet for them there always seemed to be a reason to be happy. By the end of the story we know that Hamen did not stand a chance. The seed of his demise had been planted when the King choose Esther as his wife because of her unique beauty. Ironically, Haman was placed on the very gallows he built to hang the Jews.

Purim reminds us, that even when things look bleak and gray, we can choose to be happy rather than worry and live in fear and thereby understand the true meaning of accepting suffering with joy. There are many people who choose to stay in the happy zone by submerging themselves in acceptance and joy. This attitude is the core of what is meant when we wish each other a “Happy Purim.” Purim’s main theme is to celebrate true joy. We are asked to be over the top happy!  

Unfortunately there are so many people in life who are faced with painful circumstances. “How can such people be expected to be happy?” There is a beautiful Chassidic story that provides us with the answer.

A Chassid once came to the great Chassidic master, the Maggid of Mezeritch, with a question, “How could the Torah possibly demand a person to be happy during hardship?” By way of an answer the Maggid directed his disciple to the house of his student, the pious R' Zushe of Anipoli.  

Arriving at R' Zushe’s dilapidated shack the Chassid was met with a sight of abject poverty. R’ Zushe lived with crumbling furniture, the tattered clothes, and a meager amount of food. Yet R' Zushe the master of this poor household conducted his day with a smile and invited the Chassid to stay. Upon departure the Chassid thanked Reb Zushe, and stated, “I am puzzled by the question ‘How it is possible to be happy in the face of suffering.’ My teacher, the Maggid, sent me to you to find the answer to my question.”  R' Zushe looked into his eyes and answered, “I don’t understand why the Maggid would send you to me?. How can I possibly explain to you how one accepts suffering with joy?  “I have so much joy and light in my life! Perhaps if he had sent you to someone who has experienced suffering..."

Happy Purim! And a final reminder, we invite you to celebrate Purim with other community members this Sunday, where we will have great entertainment for the kids “the Amazing Circus Show”, Kosher BBQ and fun for the whole family. this Sunday afternoon for kids and adults alike.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Purim!

The Meaning of Love

 If you do not love yourself, you cannot love another. But if you love only yourself, how can you love another?

In the home in which I grew up, with the rest my "gang"–my siblings–the word "love" was sacred. That is, love was not a word said causally, tossed about in social conversation. Rather, it was used to convey the deep bond that exists powerfully and unconditionally between two people.

Later in life, I realized that the way it was in our home with my parents was not the norm. To me, at first it was a shock to hear total strangers use the word "love" within minutes of making an acquaintance. Although I was blessed to grow up in a home where there was nothing but "love" between my parents, and also a different kind of love within our family, the word "love" still was using sparingly in our home, because it really meant something.

We know that when an important word is used to excess, its meaning becomes diluted.

"What is love?" is a question that has confounded great thinkers since the beginning of time. When a person says, "I love you," what does that person mean?

On my walk on the Malibu Pier (where I am writing), I  asked people, "What does the word 'love' mean to you?" The first person declined to respond.  Undaunted, I asked the next fellow. Was he giving me a politically correct response, something he thought I wanted to hear, when he responded, "G-d?"

And, as we ponder the dumbing down of "love," we are asked about "true love," the romantic vision that has inspired so many writers and poets and songwriters. Paradoxically, romantic love can be fleeting.

But what of the love of  a mother for her child? And how far would the child's father go to help their child? Indeed, we can even find divorced parents who still say they "love" each other, but they don't get along. Or one will say, "I loved her so much I wanted her to be happy, so I let her go." All that said, their love for their children remains undiminished and seems enduring.

The Hebrew word for love is Ahavah. As in all Biblical original texts, there are many layers of meaning in a word. At the root level, the word is rooted in "Ava" -- meaning "desire," which seems to relate more to that ideal of romantic love. 

As the reader may know from reading my past columns,  every Hebrew letter is associated with a number, the Hebrew letter “Alef” equals "1" and the letter “Bet” equals "2" and so on. The four letters in the Hebrew word for love is numerically the same as the value of the word "Echad," which means "One."

Perhaps, then, we can say, that in "Love" there is only one. This begs a question for another column -- does that mean that there is "only one" for whom you are destined for eternal bliss?  Or are we merely saying that love is unitary.

It is easier to say this about a unitary theme:  by nature we all have a "love" for our own being -- self-love.  Indeed, we go to great lengths to feed our unique drive and our desire to "feel good."   As a result of our internal love, we also tend to endure certain consequences in order to feel better. Consider the person who undergoes plastic surgery, with its painful aftermath, to look better.

We know that self-love is necessary and even a positive, to a point. In excess, it becomes self-indulgent, narcissistic and ultimately hurtful for the person

When we love someone, we are empathetic to that person's needs. As President Bill Clinton used to say, "I feel your pain." When you love someone with whom you have a conflict, your ability is to see the conflict from that person's perspective, as if it were your own. But sometimes self-love is so strong that it prevents us from seeing our own faults.  This is when self-love and ego trump mutual love and empathy.

Yet, there is much to the saying that if you do not love yourself, you cannot love another. But if you love only yourself, how can you love another?

Shabbat Shalom!

You Are a Leader

 Our emotions are multidimensional. Thus, when we examine the quality of our emotions, we probe deeper and ask some important questions.

During the past several weeks, I have been sharing with you some Kabbalistic insights into how the seven distinct workings of our personality. This process allows each of us to examine ourself in a deeper way.

In our final week of this inquiry, we examine "malchus" the Hebrew word for the attribute of sovereignty, nobility, and leadership. Sovereignty is a state of being. Nobility is a passive expression of human dignity. True leadership is the art of selflessness.  Malchus actualizes the majesty of the human spirit and  is the very fiber of what makes us human.

Malchus is a sense of belonging...knowing that you matter and that you make a difference. This attribute  provides you with a feeling of certainty and authority.

As I noted in the past, our emotions are multidimensional. Thus, when we examine the quality of our emotions, we probe deeper and ask some important questions.

Love in nobility

Healthy sovereignty is always kind and loving. An effective leader needs to be warm and considerate. Does my sovereignty make me more loving? Do I express and exercise my authority  in a caring manner? Do I impose my authority on others? A good exercise to engage this part of self  is to act kindly  to your subordinates

Discipline in Nobility

Sovereignty needs to be balanced with discipline.  When I exercise authority, am I aware of my limitations? Do I respect the authority of others? A good exercise, before taking an authoritative position on any given issue, is to pause and reflect whether you have the right and the ability to exercise authority in this situation.

Compassion – Harmony, in Nobility

A good leader acts compassionately. Is my compassion compromised because of my authority? Do I realize that compassion is an an integral part of dignity? Tiferet -- harmony - is critical for successful leadership. Do I manage a smooth-running operation? Am I organized? Do I give clear instructions to my subordinates? Do I have difficulty delegating power? A good exercise is to review an area where you yield authority and see if you can be more effective by curtailing excesses.

Endurance in Nobility

A person's dignity and a leader's success are tested by his endurance level. How determined am I in reaching my goals? How strong is my conviction to fight for a dignified cause? How confident am I in myself? Is my lack of endurance a result of my low self-esteem? Do I mask my insecurities by finding excuses? A good exercise is to act on something  in which you believe but where you have hesitated.

Humility in Nobility

Sovereignty is G-d's exceptional gift to each individual who should be humbly appreciative. Does my sovereignty and independence humble me? Am I an arrogant leader? Do I express myself in a humble way? Do I appreciate the special qualities I was blessed with? A good exercise  is to  acknowledge our Higher power for creating us with personal dignity.

Bonding in Nobility

Healthy independence should not prevent us from bonding with another person. On the contrary: self-confidence allows us to respect and trust another's sovereignty and ultimately bond. Thus, bonding strengthens mutual. Does my sovereignty prevent me from bonding? Could that be due to deeper insecurities? Do I recognize that a fear of bonding reflects a lack of self-confidence? A good exercise is to actualize your sovereignty by expressing a bond with a close one.

Nobility in Nobility

This is where we examine the sovereignty of our sovereignty. Does it come from deep-rooted inner self-confidence? Or is it just a put-on to mask my insecurities? Am I aware of my uniqueness as a person?  A good exercise is to take a moment and concentrate on your own true inner self, not on your performance and how you project to others.

This concludes the series on the attributes of our soul. The timeless message of this  yearly counting reminds us that it is only when we humans cultivate our personal characteristics that we become available to live in the higher Divine light.

After the 49 steps of introspection, we arrive at the fiftieth step. When the children of Israel left the slavery in Egypt, they went through this process. They counted 50 days until they experienced the giving of the Ten Commandments. The fiftieth day is what Jews celebrate today as the Festival of Shavuot, (this year May 15 and 16) the anniversary of the giving of the Torah (Matan Torah).

Chabad of Malibu welcomes you to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot with us as we reenact the Sinai event by reading the Ten Commandments from a Torah scroll, please click here for more information.

Shabbat Shalom!

Adopted from “A Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the Omer -- Forty-Nine Steps to Personal Refinement” by Rabbi Simon Jacobson.

Shalom! שלום!

The Power of Bonding

 Without bonding and nurturing, we lack the confidence to realize our potential.

Over the last weeks, I shared with you the inner workings of our personality...kabbalisticly speaking.

In this sixth week in our journey, we move to the sixth attribute of human impulse -- compassion -- Yesod in Hebrew. The emotional attribute of “bonding”  means connecting, that is, beyond just feeling for another, but rather actually attaching to another. This total devotion creates a channel between the giver and the receiver.

Bonding is the foundation of life. As the emotional spine of the human psyche, bonding is a key to growth. Thus, the bonding, whether between mother and child, husband and wife, brothers and sisters, or between close friends, is an affirmation that gives the sense of belonging. Put another way, bonding says  that "I matter..."I am significant and important." Bonding establishes trust in yourself and in others. Without bonding and nurturing, we lack the confidence to realize our potential.

As I noted last week, our emotions are multidimensional. Each of our distinct emotions (love, discipline, beauty...) include all seven attributes. Thus, when we examine the quality of our emotions, we probe deeper and ask important questions.

Loving kindness of Bonding - You cannot bond without love. Love establishes a reliable base on which bonding can build. When we have a problem bonding, we must examine how much we love the one with whom we are trying to bond. Sometimes, a simple act of love can strengthen a bond.

Discipline of Bonding - Bonding must be done with consideration. Even the healthiest and closest bonding needs "time out" -- a respect for each individual's space. Do I over bond? Am I too dependent on the one I bond with? Do I bond out of desperation? Do I bond with healthy, wholesome people?

Compassion in Bonding - Bonding needs to be not only loving but also compassionate, feeling another's pain and empathizing. Is my bonding conditional? Do I withdraw when I am uncomfortable with my friend's troubles?

Endurance in Bonding - An essential component of bonding is its endurance to withstand challenges and setbacks. Indeed, without endurance ,there is no chance to develop true bonding. Am I totally committed to the one with whom I bond? How much will I endure and persevere to maintain this bond? Is the person I bond with aware of my devotion?

Humility of Bonding - Arrogance divides people. Preoccupation with our own desires and needs separates us from others. In contrast, humility allows us to appreciate another person and bond with them. Thus, healthy bonding is the union of two distinct people, with independent personalities, who join for a higher purpose.

Bonding in Bonding - Every person has the need and capacity to bond. The Divine nurturing and loving soul within us provides for us to also experience other people's souls and hearts. Doing so allows us to slowly drop our unhealthy defenses and recognize someone we can trust. Bonding breeds bonding, and when we bond in one area of our life, it helps us bond in other areas too.

Nobility in Bonding - Bonding must enhance a person's sovereignty and nurture dignity--your dignity and  one with whom you bond. Does my bonding inhibit the expression of my personality and qualities? Does it overwhelm the one I bond with?

As we consider the inner workings of our internal attributes we become more aware of why we feel the way we do, and we naturally become more available to bringing positive changes in the way we behave.

Shabbat Shalom!

Adapted from "A Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the Omer -- Forty-Nine Steps to Personal Refinement” by Rabbi Simon Jacobson.

What is Humility?

 The rabbi explores why this quality is important for all of us.


They tell a story about a Rabbi who was always trying to impress his “humility” on those around him. It was in the middle of the synagogue service, the rabbi suddenly cried out, "Oh dear G-d, I am but nothing in your eyes!" Not wanting to be outshone, Joseph, the synagogue cantor cried out, "Oh G-d, I am also but nothing in your eyes!” When George, the synagogue's president, heard the cries from the Rabbi and the cantor, he followed and cried out, "I, too, Oh G-d, am nothing in your eyes!"

On hearing this,the Rabbi turned to the cantor and said, "Ha! look who thinks he's a nothing!"

In continuation with the past weeks' columns, ( this week we examine the attribute of humility, or in Hebrew "Hod" ( literally:  acknowledgement  -- the part of us that that is expressed in humility.

Humility is often confused with weakness and lack of self-esteem. Humility is modesty; it is acknowledgment, it is clearly recognizing our qualities and strengths and acknowledging that they are not our own; they were given to us as a gift for a purpose higher than just satisfying our own selfish needs. Recognizing how small we are allows us to realize how large our potential is. This is what makes humility so formidable.

True humility is silent it but not a void. It is a dynamic expression of life that includes all seven qualities ( of love, discipline, compassion, endurance, humility, bonding and sovereignty.

Loving kindness in Humility

Healthy humility brings love and joy not fear. Often, humility is confused with low self-esteem, which would cause it to be unloving. Humility brings love because it gives us the ability to rise above ourselves and love another. When we examine this point within we ask ourselves; does my humility cause me to be more loving and giving? More expansive? Or does my "humility" inhibit and constrain me in other ways?

Discipline in Humility

Humility must be disciplined and focused. At times humility calls for us to compromise and at times not. When we remain silent and neutral in the face of outright evil, it is humility without discipline. In addition, humility must include respect and awe for the person or experience before whom we stand humble.

Compassion in Humility

An important aspect of the humility quality, is that it be compassionate. A false sense of humility can cause one to be self-contained and anti-social. True humility expresses itself in empathy for others. Thus when we examine this aspect of self we ask; Is my humility balanced and beautiful? Or is it a cause for awkward behavior?

Endurance in Humility 

Walking the path of humility requires strength and endurance. A humility that cannot withstand challenges, lacks the true experience of humility. Humility and modesty should not cause one to feel weak and insecure. Endurance in humility underscores the fact that true humility does not make you into a "doormat" for others to step on; on the contrary, humility gives you enduring strength.

Humility in Humility

Everyone has humility and modesty in their hearts, the question is the measure and manner in which one consciously feels it. Am I afraid to be too humble? Humility must also be examined for its genuineness. Is my humility humble? Or is it yet another expression of arrogance? Do I take too much pride in my humility? Do I flaunt it? Is it self-serving? Is my humility part of a crusade or is it genuine? True humility is when we are humble just for its own sake.

Bonding in Humility

Humility ought to result in deep bonding and commitment. There is no stronger bond than one that comes out of humility. Does my humility separate me from others or bring us closer? Does my humility produce results? Long term results? Does it create an everlasting foundation upon which I and others can rely and build. The ultimate expression of humility is when it makes us available to build something lasting.

Nobility in Humility

Walking humbly is walking tall. Dignity is the essence of humility and modesty. The splendor of humility is majestic and aristocratic. Humility that suppresses the human spirit and denies individual sovereignty is not humility at all. Thus, when we examine nobility in humility we ask ourselves; does my humility make me feel dignified? Do I feel alive and vibrant?

When we take the time to deeply explore our attributes, we are assured to come away from the experience a more truly fulfilled and compassionate person.

Adopted from “A Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the Omer -- Forty-Nine Steps to Personal Refinement” by Rabbi Simon Jacobson.

Shabbat Shalom!



Are You a Winner?

 Without endurance, any good endeavor or intention has no chance of success.


Do you remember "The Little Engine that Could?" It’s the story of an upbeat engine that saves the day when a long train needs to be pulled over a high mountain. Larger trains refuse the job for various reasons.

The small engine is asked to take on the challenge, and agrees. Chugging the phrase, “I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can,” he eventually pulls that big train over the mountain.  

The book, a classic, is a celebration of optimism, the power of positive thinking, drive and perseverance. In some sense, it’s a metaphor for the American Dream. Just think the right thoughts, manifest your desire on a message board or repeat them to yourself at breakfast and bedtime, and hey!—you’ll get what you want.  

It seems that while there are some out there that practice this behavior with their eyes closed, so many of us need a constant reminder. How does one persevere? In continuation with the past weeks columns, regarding the inner workings of our personality, kabbalisticly speaking. This week we will examine the 4th of the seven emotions, the attribute of endurance. Endurance or in Hebrew "Netzach" literally: Victory -- is the part of us that has the properties of the little engine that could.  

The attribute of endurance, Netzach in Hebrew, is the part of us that expresses fortitude and ambition, determination and tenacity. It is a balance of patience, persistence and guts. Endurance is also being reliable and accountable, which establishes security and commitment. Without endurance, any good endeavor or intention has no chance of success. Endurance means to be alive, to be driven by what counts. It is the readiness to fight for what you believe, to go all the way.

This, of course, is hat is responsible for so much irrational behavior amongst our species, too many people become marinated in senseless endurance and are so focused on winning, that so many a time it results in behaviors that breeds destruction and havoc. Consider the mindless ways on which, sadly, many couples approach divorce.

The need to win comes at the cost of raising healthy balanced children. Thus, if we are going to live a more productive life, it is of utmost importance that our drive to endure be closely examined to ensure that it is used in a healthy and productive manner.  

As was mentioned last week, our array of emotions are multidimensional; when we examine the quality of our emotions, we probe deeper:  

Lovingkindness in Endurance

For endurance to be effective it needs to be caring and loving. A neutral or indifferent attitude will reflect in a marginal commitment. We ask ourselves, does my endurance cause me to be, or seem to be, inflexible? Does my drive and determination cause me to be controlling? Am I too demanding? Endurance needs us to first pause to ensure that it is accomplished in a loving manner.  

Discipline in Endurance

Healthy endurance is when it is directed toward productive goals and expressed in a constructive manner. Is my endurance and determination focused to help cultivate good habits and break bad ones? Or is it the other way around? Does my endurance come from strength or weakness? The discipline aspect of endurance is what gives us the ability to break bad habits.  

Compassion in Endurance

The compassion of endurance reflects a most beautiful quality of endurance: an enduring commitment to help another grow. Endurance without compassion is misguided and selfish. Am I able to rise above my ego and empathize with my competitors? Am I gracious in victory?  

Endurance in Endurance

Everyone has willpower and determination. We have the capacity to endure and prevail under the most trying of circumstances. There are times that, convinced that we are doing all that we can, we are believing our own "story" of how determined we are are, yet in reality our behavior is mercurial. Thus, we ask ourselves, do I underestimate my capacity to endure? This particular trait is the power within us to commit to developing new good habits with the attitude of "whatever it takes" and thus succeed time and time again.

Humility in Endurance  

Yielding - a by product of humility - is an essential element of enduring. Standing fast can sometimes be a formula for destruction. The oak, lacking the ability to bend in the hurricane, is uprooted. The reed, which yields to the wind, survives. When endurance is fueled by inner strength it allows us to yield, out of strength not fear. Humility helps us recognize and acknowledge that the capacity to endure and prevail comes from the limitless Divine soul innate within each person, and when we see live in our souls perspective, we naturally embody humility.

Bonding in Endurance

Bonding expresses our unwavering commitment to the person or experience we are bonding with, a commitment so powerful that we will endure all to preserve it. Endurance without bonding will not endure. To ensure the endurance of our new resolution, we bond with it immediately. This can be assured by promptly actualizing our resolution in some constructive deed or committing ourself to another.

Nobility in Endurance  

Sovereignty is the cornerstone of endurance. Endurance that encompasses the previous six qualities is indeed a tribute and testimony to the majesty of the human spirit. Is my endurance dignified? Does it bring out the best in me? When faced with hardships am I confident in my of the Divine gift, my life force and her strengths, or do I cower and shrivel up in fear? When we take the time to deeply explore our attributes, we are assured to come away from the experience a more truly fulfilled and compassionate person.

Adopted from “A Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the Omer -- Forty-Nine Steps to Personal Refinement” by Rabbi Simon Jacobson.

Shabbat Shalom!

If you would like to learn more about the Kabbalah science of our personality, we are beginning a new class on this subject. For more information please email me at [email protected].  

Are You Compassionate?

When we take the time to deeply explore our attributes, we are assured to come away from the experience a more truly fulfilled and compassionate person.


Last week I shared with you the inner workings of our personality...kabbalisticly speaking.

This week, the third week in this journey, we move on to the third attribute of human impulse; compassion.

What is compassion? The Hebrew word for this attribute is “Tiferet”, also means "beautiful". This attribute, which is one of the basic human characteristics, blends and harmonizes the free outpouring of love (Chesed) with discipline (Gevurah) and thus introduces truth, the integration of love and discipline.

Truth is accessed through selflessness. That is, when we rise above our ego and our predispositions, we can realize truth. Truth gives us a clear and objective picture of our needs. Thus, Tiferet means beauty because the harmony of love and discipline is beautiful.

As was mentioned last week, our emotions are multidimensional; each of our distinct emotions (Love, discipline, beauty, etc.) includes a blend of all  seven attributes. Thus, when we examine the quality of our emotions, we probe deeper:

1. Loving-kindness of Compassion: Is my compassion tender and loving or does it come across as pity? Does my compassion overflow with love and warmth and is it expressed with enthusiasm, or is it static and lifeless?

2. Discipline of Compassion: True compassion requires discipline and focus to recognize when compassion should be expressed or withheld. After all, true compassion is not about the bestower's needs, but for the recipient's needs.

3. Compassion of Compassion: Compassion for another is achieved by having a selfless attitude in order to place ourself in the other person's situation.  Is my compassion that which comes out of guilt rather than genuine empathy?

4. Endurance of Compassion: Is my compassion consistent and does it prevail among other forces in my life? For example, do I have the capacity to be compassionate even when I'm busy or or only when it's comfortable for me? Am I ready to stand up for another?

5. Humility of Compassion: Compassion without humility can be condescending. Humility  recognizes that my ability to be compassionate does not make me better than the recipient. Do I look down at those who need my compassion? Finally, am I humble and thankful to G-d for giving me the means to have compassion for others?

6. Bonding of Compassion: For compassion to be fully realized, it requires creating a channel between the giver and receiver, that is, a mutuality that extends beyond the moment of need. Do I bond, beyond a single act of empathy, or do I remain apart?

7. Nobility of Compassion: Here we examine the dignity of our compassion. For compassion to be complete, it must  boost self-esteem and cultivate human dignity. Is my compassion expressed in a dignified manner, and does my compassion elicit dignity in others?

When we take the time to deeply explore our attributes, we are assured to come away from the experience a more truly fulfilled and compassionate person.

Adopted from “A Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the Omer -- Forty-Nine Steps to Personal Refinement” by Rabbi Simon Jacobson.

Shabbat Shalom!

If you would like to learn more about the Kabbalah science of our personality, we are beginning a new class on this subject. For more information please email me at [email protected].

Breaking Free From Bondage of Work, Fear, Lack of Love


When we take the time to deeply explore our attributes within, we are assured to come away from the experience with a new found freedom.

We live in a world that has increasingly embraced the inalienable right of every person to be free. It would seem that we are more free than we’ve ever been, conquering time and space with the internet, smart phones, and the exponential development of technology affecting every aspect of our lives. But for all this prosperity and high tech, are you more free of your inner demons and scars, of oppressive employers or pressures? Are you more free in your relationships, free of jealousy, anger or substance abuse?

The reality is we are all slaves to something – to work, or a relationship, to fear, or food, to a lack of discipline, or too much discipline, to love, or a lack of love. We just concluded the holiday of Passover, commemorating the freedom of the Hebrews from the Egyptian exile.

The Hebrew word for ‘Egypt’ used in the Torah is “Mitzrayim.”  The word “Mitzrayim”  also means “limitations and boundaries” thus, the esoteric teachings of the Torah speak of the slavery in “Mitzrayim” representing all forms of constraints that inhibit our true free expression. Thus, the ancient story of the exodus from Egypt can also be seen as a formula on how to overcome our limitations and boundaries and thus achieve inner freedom in our lives.

After leaving Egypt the Jewish people traversed the desert for 49 days until they were ready to reached Mount Sinai, the zenith of the exodus.

Enslavement is a habit that needs to be broken and transformed over an extended period of time – a time that is refining and healing. The 49-day process in this journey, can be seen as the keys to freedom.

Kabbalistic teachings explain that there are seven basic impulses in the heart of humans: 

1. Chessed (love, benevolence)

2. Gevurah (restraint, awe, fear)

3. Tiferet (compassion, harmony)

4. Netzach (ambition, competitiveness, persistence)

5. Hod (humility, devotion, surrender)

6. Yesod (communicatively, connectedness)

7. Malchut (regality, receptiveness, expression).

Furthermore, since a fully functional emotion is multidimensional, it must include within itself a blend of all other seven attributes (e.g., chessed of chessed, gevurah of chessed, tiferet of chessed). Thus, the seven week period, which represent these emotional attributes, further divide into seven days making up the 49 days.

The first week (which began this year March 27) was an internal exploration on the attribute of “loving kindness”.  Love is a single most powerful and necessary component in life. Love is the origin and foundation of all human interactions. It is both giving and receiving. It allows us to reach above and beyond ourselves; to experience another person and to allow that person to experience us. It is the tool by which we learn to experience the highest reality – G-d.

The week we are now in is when we explore the attribute of “Justice and discipline.” If love is the bedrock of human expression, discipline is the channel through which we express love. It gives our life and love direction and focus. Take a laser beam: Its potency lies in the focus and concentration of light in one direction rather than fragmented light beams dispersed in all different directions.

Gevurah - discipline and measure - concentrates and directs our efforts, our love in the proper directions. Another aspect of gevurah is - respect and awe. Healthy love requires respect for the one you love.

When we are exploring the attribute of Justice and discipline, we ask ourselves some important questions;

1. When I judge and criticize another, is it in any way tinged with my own contempt and irritation?

2. Is there any hidden satisfaction in the other person’s failure?

3. Is my judgment coming from love?

When we take the time to deeply explore our attributes within, we are assured to come away from the experience with a newfound freedom.

Adopted from “A Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the Omer -- Forty-Nine Steps to Personal Refinement” by Rabbi Simon Jacobson.

Shabbat Shalom!

Be Good, Say Good, Do Good

 We are all called to imbue our thoughts, speech and action with the essence of "good."


This past week, I was shown an ancient Persian symbol that has a human being in the center of a circle. The ring has two wings attached to it. I was told, on the top of the right wing it reads "be good"; on the top of the left wing, it reads "say good"' and on top of the Man’s head it reads "do good"

The symbol intrigued me, especially because of the similarity of the core message that I was raised with, albeit in a different "religion"; We are all called to imbue our thoughts, speech and action with the essence of "good."

The "say good" intrigued me, because I just completed an esoteric lesson on the connection we make, when we verbally give gratitude before eating. On a practical sense, it is the blessings that I was taught to recite, and in the Jewish teachings, there are different blessings we say before eating different foods.   But at a deeper perspective, making a blessing is taking a conscious step to connect to the "good" in what we are about to digest.

For me, the fact that we are blessed to have a Fig tree in the garden of Chabad of Malibu, allows me to visualize the growth process that I meditate on before I recite my words of gratitude. I see from up close, in real time, how the tree that was barren for the six months of the winter then sprouts from dry branches, in order to produce beautiful and delicious fruit which we are able to enjoy.

For me, the mediation, connecting to the Source of all things, and then verbally reciting words of gratitude, has turned from what some view as a religious ritual into an inspired moment of "good" energy.

Indeed, it makes sense - on a simply rational level - to use our gift of speech for words that are good.  And gratitude is always a good thing. 

It seems that the call of “doing good" requires a deeper understanding and is a bit more complex. That's because there is a great deal of disagreement on what the meaning of “doing good” may be.

Either way, by beginning a journey with “saying good” which is at our close reach, we open a new door to the world of good.

Shabbat Shalom!

Passover: The Energy of Freedom

Passover throughout the generations remains a powerful symbol for true spiritual liberation.


This coming Monday night, marks the beginning of the Passover holiday. Passover is known as the time of “the exodus” but is much more than a celebration of an important historical event -- the exodus of Jews from slavery in Egypt.

Passover throughout the generations remains a powerful symbol for true spiritual liberation. In other words, when Passover comes around, we are called to go beyond the memory of external slavery, meaning those who enslaved us in the past, to the more challenging issue of internal slavery, meaning how we enslave ourselves.

Passover – the time of liberation -- is when we seek to release ourselves from unworthy instincts and emotions, and from passions that do us harm. Put broadly, Passover is the time to discard negative beliefs that we have become enslaved by and move on. But when we are in the midst of our own slavery, It may seem impossible to become free. Are we held hostage to depression or anger, and where does one stop, and the other begin? And what about the pernicious addictions of all kinds? Is it any wonder that, for example, angry and depressed people are more likely to be anxious, more open to destructive excess of all kinds?

We are told that there is an "addictive personality." Yet, we find that, even in despair and darkness, where costly and trendy interventions fail, a Higher power can enable us to overcome the most profound addiction. And, at this time of year, all of us we must ask: How the can we successfully draw on the deepest energy of freedom?

The teachings of Chassidism can be seen more than simply religion or Judaism, but as scientific reality. As such, the process of liberation can be seen as an empirical formula requiring three important stages: (1) Submission, (2) Separation and (3). Sweetening.

(1)  SUBMISSION. To achieve freedom, first, we must be fully aware of our enslavement. When do we know that we have become aware? When we can truly taste the bitterness of our enslavement, this step is what opens the door for us to submit to the call of liberation. This is analogous to when the addict hits "rock bottom."

(2)  SEPARATION. To be liberated, we must detach from that which entraps us. We remind ourselves of the bitterness of our self-enslavement and we invoke our Higher Power to move to be truly liberated.

(3) SWEETENING, To arrive at freedom, memories of our self-enslavement motivate us to stay free. We realize that we can sweeten the bitterness of our past bondage with hopeful aspiration and positive integration.

And, as we convert negativity to light, we must focus on the here and now. 

These three stages are alluded to in the Passover observances. The night before the Seder, we search in our home for leaven (bread), which causes rising, and symbolizes inflated ego. Consider that our arrogance is the root of emotional enslavement. Thus, to prepare for freedom, we are called to look inward, as we truthfully and deeply seek to realize where we are personally enslaved. When we acknowledge our self-destructive actions, we allow the light of liberation to pierce the darkness of our internal slavery.

After  the ‘Leaven’ products are gone from our home, we refrain from eating the Leaven products throughout the holiday of Passover. This act of separation from "ego" products provides us with the possibility to attain freedom. The unleavened Matzah bread prepares us to sweeten the memories of slavery with the ensuing joy of true freedom. 

Indeed, from the 'spiritual science' view, internal slavery is a symptom of deep confusion, exasperated by the inflated ego, that prevents us from seeing life.  True freedom requires a higher level of understanding, as each of us becomes a vessel of a higher order.

This is why the ultimate freedom for the Jewish people 3,325 years ago came 49 days after the exodus, at Mt. Sinai, with the Divine revelation that opened our eyes to the deepest sense of our existence and purpose,  which provided a  path, indeed for all of humanity, a guide to everlasting freedom,  and a way to live to our fullest potential.

Shabbat Shalom!

Happy Passover!

Passover: A Time to Care

Situations are placed before us to provide us with an opportunity to step to the plate -- to be there for someone else who needs help.

"Frankie and Mindy" sounds like the title of a romantic movie. And, in a way it is.

It was the evening of April 9th, 1984. Much of our country was glued to a television set, as the legendary Johnny Carson was presiding over the academy awards show at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The evening's momentum continued to build toward the announcement of the best actress award. With no emergencies at hand, the nurses and doctors in the labor and delivery department at Kaiser Permanente gathered at the television set in the common area. Suddenly, one of the expecting mothers needed immediate assistance. Mindy M., one of the junior nurses, was dispatched down the hallway. A few minutes later, Mindy would help deliver the very first baby of her career. When Mindy would later reminisce about the joy she felt at that moment, she would say, “I remember thinking how sacred a moment is this, I was the first life to touch this life in this world.” 

In 1990, after delivering nearly one thousand babies, Mindy suffered spinal degenerate disease. Thus, she could no longer continue her promising career as a registered nurse. Unfortunately, her troubles did not stop there. Mindy later began suffering from a mental disorder, which meant that her husband Frankie, a hardworking and experienced salesman, would have to give more and more of his time caring for Mindy.

About eleven million adult Americans suffer from severe mental illness, according to the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration. Our government provides a vast network of assistance for many who suffer from disabilities. Unfortunately for people like Mindy, there are gaps in the system. In Mindy's case, she no longer can earn a livelihood; she and Frankie are unable to subsist from the nominal government help which barely provides enough for two of them to eat, especially after partially paying for her basic medical help. They can hardly afford the gas for the van which has served as their residence for the past four years.

The first time I met Mindy and Frankie, I was taken aback by the grace in which they have accepted their dire situation. Clearly, this is one of those cases where people must rely on the generosity of others for their modest needs. 

As I have shared here in the past, I was taught that every encounter has deep meaning. At times, situations are placed before us to provide us with an opportunity to step to the plate -- to be there for someone else who needs help.

As the Holiday of Passover nears, the time that will mark the 3,325th anniversary of the end of the enslavement of the Jewish people from Egypt, we are called upon to consider how we can assist others who are enslaved by their predicament of utter despair.

The generous people at Feed Your Soul are currently assisting Frankie and Mindy with the goal of finding suitable housing and helping them meet their monthly living needs.

An important part of the yearly Passover observance, is the reminder that each of us is enslaved in one way or another. When we take the time to help someone else out of his or her “slavery” we actually to experience the first steps of our own personal exodus.

With the image of Malibu as an enclave for the super-wealthy, I realize the plight of Frankie and Mindy is at odds with how Malibu is otherwise known. But the reality is that sadly, there are over 50,000 homeless people In Los Angeles County, – and even Malibu -- has homeless.

These are people right here in our community who do need our help. You can be a part of this goodness and kindness by clicking here. Please make sure to put in the description “Frankie and Mindy” All monies allocated will go directly to assisting them.

Frankie and Mindy may not live a carefree life the way movies portray romance.  But there is something precious in the way that Frankie has given up his life to care for Mindy.   His devotion should be an inspiration to all of us 

Shabbat Shalom!

Dancing the Rhythm of Life

Life is essentially a journey. Its essential nature is one of movement and rhythm, characterized by cycles of ups and downs, dynamically flowing back and forth.

What is life? Life is energy and energy is about rhythm.

The Jewish mystics call it “rotzo v’shuv” (based on a verse in Ezekiel’s vision “and the energy runs and returns” Ezekiel 1:14. “Rotzo” is a state of yearning and transcendence; “shuv” is a state of immersion and integration.

The very engine of life is driven by the pulsating dance of “transcendence” and “integration.” This is true on all levels of life. On a cosmic level, and when we observe reality on a nano level, all of existence can essentially be seen as a Divine breath, throbbing energy, constantly recreating existence. And on a biological level, individual life is fueled by the heart beat contracting and expanding, and the breath exhaling and inhaling.

Psychologically too what makes a human being human is a constant ebb and flow – of tension and resolution, transcendence and integration, abstraction and concretization. Human nature is not satisfied with animal bliss; it consistently reaches upward, aspiring, dreaming – seeking to improve itself and beyond. And then we return – re-immersing and integrating the transcendent experience.

All growth is built on the dual principle of first desiring and striving for something we don’t yet have, and then acquiring and internalizing it. Like climbing a ladder: First you see the step above you and then you climb and conquer it. As you climb higher broader horizons open up, feeding our hunger for more and than sating that hunger, only to whet our appetite for experiencing higher states of being.

A healthy life and a fulfilled one is when we master the balance between these two poles: A healthy measure of both angst and calm, of dreams and their fulfillment. Unhealthy situations are usually a result of imbalance between the two, with either too much tension and too little resolution or the other way around. Some people dream well, but don’t implement; others act but don’t imagine.

No one is perfect, and it requires constant vigilance to ensure that the transcendent yearning should be balanced by contained integration, so that we have our heads in the heavens but our feet firmly planted on the ground. Yet, life gets out of control – and this is the root of many maladies – when one of the two dominates to the extreme. Sometimes this takes on the shape of exaggerated exuberance, unrealistic fantasies and illusions of grandeur. On the other end of the spectrum, the lack of aspiration can easily evolve into despair and resignation – with no hope or faith in a better tomorrow.

Life then is essentially a journey. Its essential nature is one of movement and rhythm, characterized by cycles of ups and downs, dynamically flowing back and forth.

If we were all in touch with this basic truth, the fundamental nature of life’s vicissitudes, we would be able to ride through most of our challenges, even the difficult times. The problem is that even as we understand with our minds the cycle of life, our subjective hearts get caught up in the moment, consumed by either the moment of joy or pain, unable to see the spinning wheel.

Thus, the great Chassidic master, the Baal Shem Tov uses the “spiral staircase” as an analogy for life’s cycles: In Yiddish a spiral staircase is called “shvindel trep,” literally: “Swindling stairs”. Why? Because when you climb a regular vertical staircase, you see yourself getting closer to the destination as you climb the stairs. A spiral staircase “swindles” you, because as you get closer to the destination you have to turn completely around, in a 180 degree turn, to the point where you cannot see the apex.

As you climb you keep turning your back to the destination, and just before you reach the top, you must turn completely around for the last time. The key is to always remember, even when your eyes cannot see it and your heart cannot feel it, that we are on a climbing staircase, and we must continue to move.

The practical lesson for us is this: The best way to face the most difficult challenges in life is not to disengage from life and retreat. Quite the contrary: It is specifically in the challenging moments that we are called upon to dig deeper within, intensify our engagement and double our efforts. When at such times, we commit to an extra act of virtue, an extra act of goodness and kindness, the temporary contraction becomes the very fuel for the consequent powerful expansion.

Adopted from teachings of Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneerson by Rabbi Simon Jacobson.

Shabbat Shalom!

Ending Abuse and Silence


Those of us who know victims of such abuse also know the lifelong pain and suffering these victims go through because of the memories that haunt them.

Over the past few weeks our news has been filled with horrible stories of leaders in the faith community, sexually abusing --  and thus wreaking havoc on, the innocent and pure life of children, teenagers, and parishioners, all who have come to the leaders of their respective faiths to connect to the spiritual core of life.

Instead of receiving education, guidance and spiritual support, have been abused, even warned to be silent as they were being robbed of their innocence by the very people they trusted most!

Those of us who know victims of such abuse also know the lifelong pain and suffering these victims go through because of the memories that haunt them.  The abusers are creeps who come in all colors, creeds and faiths. They are responsible for years of pain and sleepless nights of countless innocent people.

Perhaps what is equally or maybe even more disturbing is the level of secrecy the abusers are afforded by their colleagues or superiors to keep the acts hidden and thus we are unable prevent the abuse from continuing, especially on more victims.  And there are those in power who, when their despicable acts come to light, conspire. In so many cases, across the lines of different faiths, to actually pretend the problem does not exist, and transfer the abuser elsewhere.  Frankly, it is reminiscent of reports in the public schools where a suspected child molester is transferred to another school. 

Instead of immediate outrage and immediate actions that could halt such despicable behavior, there seems to be more concern and sensitivity for the creeps! What about the victim? What about the many victims who are too filled with fear or shame to speak up! What about the innocent children who, because of the bizarre silence of those who are in the know, will end up as victims even more damaged, because they feel the lack of concern!

The silence of those who could have put a stop to this atrocious behavior is deafening! When someone who is aware of sexual molestation, especially of a child, and who has the ability to put an end to it, fails to act, that person becomes an accomplice and must be held accountable.

Creeps do not conform to stereotypes. They could be any occupation or profession, or as we have seen, even, teachers, priests, rabbis. But if our true interests lays for the safety and betterment of our communities, and particularly the most vulnerable among us -- children, then we ought to put all other considerations aside, and break the silence, lest one more innocent child be violated. 

The great Chassidic master Rabbi Joseph Issac of Lubavitch would say, before one becomes a Chasid (a person of piety) first you need to be a mentch (a good human being). Indeed it seems like a rule that could be applied to all walks of faith, that is, if you are aware of an outright abuse being perpetrated, the mentch way is to act! Do something about it! Be a mentch!

Shabbat Shalom!

Teamwork in Malibu

I had the pleasure of participating in the Annual Malibu Chamber of Commerce Business Leadership Awards and Board Installation, where teamwork was the underlying theme.

The legend basketball player Michael Jordon coined the phrase “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

Today I had the pleasure of participating in the Annual Malibu Chamber of Commerce Business Leadership Awards and Board Installation, where teamwork was the underlying theme.

The event took place at the Malibu Golf Club, situated in the majestic foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. The room was filled with Malibu business owners and community representatives unified by the common goal: “To work closely together to serve the needs of local residents and to create an environment conducive to improving the quality of life in Malibu.”

A special round of applause went to Jessica Davis of the Malibu Patch, who received the well-deserved Malibu Ambassador Award for her outstanding work in the community. The new chairwoman Beth Pearcey-Neal, from the Malibu Golf Club, delivered an enthusiastic and inspirational vision of unity for the coming year.

When community joins hands to work together this energy produces exponential results. I am reminded of the image of pelicans flying along the coast in “V” formation. They fly in this clever formation, because as each bird flaps its wings the wingtip vortices generate an upwash for the bird immediately following. Thus by flying in “V” formation the whole flock achieves a significantly greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

Similarly, such is the case when we work together as a community. When people share a common direction and sense of unity they can achieve great things and realize their goals quickly and easily, because they are traveling on the thrust of each other’s efforts.

It was really terrific to see and feel this sense of community, which was so obviously the nature of this business gathering. Much can be learned from those who share a common goal and work together to bring about positive change.  I commend all those who donate their time and effort for the sake of our community, your work impacts us all, and we are grateful for your service, thank you.

Shabbat Shalom!

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