One Chanukah, when I was a teenager, a friend showed me a cool trick. If you snuff out a candle, the smoke rises from the wick for a few seconds. If you place another flame directly in that smoke , the flame will actually follow the smoke down and relight the candle. I made a video showing it here. It's a cool trick, but I never really understood the real meaning of it, until last week when I realized that this is exactly what happened to my son when I blew his soul back into him!
"A candle of G-d is the soul of man" (Proverbs 20, 27). Chassidus elaborates on the parallels. Flames don't want to exist. They want to expire & fly back up to where they came from in heaven. It's the wick and fuel that tie the flame down and keep it from expiring. So too, a soul wants to fly back up to heaven, where it came from, and the body is what keeps the soul down here alive.
As a flame is extinguished, and it's en route back up to heaven, a trail of smoke follows it. Even though the flame is already gone from the wick, if you catch it midway, and put another flame into the smoke trail, the flame will climb back down to the wick.
You may have heard that I pulled my son's lifeless from the bottom of a pool a couple months back. There's no doubt in my mind that his soul was on it's way back up to heaven. Luckily, while his soul wasn't in him, it hadn't made it all the way back to heaven either. Without any training in CPR, I put him on the concrete and started alternating between blowing into his mouth and pumping his chest. After about 30 seconds, the flame of his soul came back, and he started to faintly breathe.
You see? This flame trick is actually a perfect analogy of CPR! It catches the soul midway and pulls it back! What a privilege to see how King Solomon's analogy of "A flame of G-d is the soul of man" is literal in every detail. The entire Torah is true in every detail. As we go through life, if we pay attention, we can see more and more of this truth.
We’re being led to believe that the world is falling apart and that things are getting worse and worse by the day. There may be some truth to this notion, but it’s mostly false. For a full month, the Idaho murder story has dominated headlines, and this story demonstrates my point. It perked my interest and I started reading up on serial killers, and noticed an interesting trend. They all seem to have been from the 70’s. The fact that a PhD in criminology, who had no crime history, was tracked down in a month is testament to how far DNA and detective work has come. The infamous serial killers went on for decades and killed many, many times before being caught. Of course, it’s important to remind ourselves that this individual in Idaho hasn’t been convicted, and we should let the court work through it’s course. But the point is true nonetheless. Why aren’t there any serial killers of the 2020’s if the world is getting worse and worse by the day? Because would-be serial killers are getti
I took a trip to Washington D.C. to visit my step-uncle and aunt and comfort them for the loss of their daughters . Torah teaches that visiting mourners, especially in their home, is comforting to the mourners and to the deceased. Indeed, the process of death is painful not only to the family of the deceased, but to the deceased themselves. The ability to do productive work, help people and do mitzvahs is only possible while alive in this physical world, and this is why death is painful (unlike what most people think, that death is the end of pain). We mourn with the dead over the lost opportunities to give light to the world. On the way back, I stopped in Dallas, TX for a day. It made $$ sense and gave me the opportunity to visit a couple good friends and supporters who have moved there. Here are some observations and reflections from the visit: Texas was very different than I expected. I wasn’t expecting the toll roads and traffic. Instead of Ford and Chevy pickup trucks, I was
I made a mistake. A local friend asked me if I could pull together a minyan so he could say Kaddish for his father. I told him I’d try. So I sent out an SMS message from our database to a few dozen people I thought might like to help this nice fellow by joining a minyan. One of the recipients felt my tone was too technical and not heartfelt enough and responded with some healthy rebuke. It was painful. But I’ve learned how to go through these painful rebukes a few times in my life. Here is a line from the Rebbe’s calendar: “ My father wrote in a letter: Cherish criticism, for it will place you on the true heights. “ I’ve heard that they’re called blind spots. Like when you’re driving. And a car is right beside you, but you just can’t see it. The only way to find it is by turning your head. I was created with character flaws (and maybe someone else reading this email was too). And the worst part about these flaws, Is that sometimes I’m completely oblivious to them! I might write somethi