Tuesday, June 26, 2007


On Monday, June 25, in the Noahide class Alexey, Brigitte, Peter, and Michael attended, and we welcomed back Adam (Okeinko).

We discussed the concept of humility on many levels:

1. Not showing off one's talents and virtues to others, and even making an effort to hide these talents, unless circumstances necessitate revealing these qualities.

2. Feeling humble despite one's talents, out of an awareness of one's shortcomings.

3. Feeling humble out of awareness that one's talents are only a gift from Above, like an inheritance; it is thus illogical to pride oneself on them.

4. Just as it is necessary to know one's faults so they can be corrected, so should one know one's good qualities, so one can use them to the maximum to benefit society and thus realise the purpose for which these talents were granted to the person. The thought that one has wasted or even not maximised one's talents can evoke a feeling of humility.

4. Feeling humble out of awareness that if another person had been granted my talents and upbringing, he might well have exerted more effort than I, and accomplished much more.

5. Feeling that one is no different from a lowly criminal by thinking, "For him to overcome his temptations and pull himself out of his immoral lifestyle, he would need to exert tremendous effort. If I am not exerting the same amount of effort to do what the Creator demands of me--good deeds--then in a sense, I am no better than him!"

6. Feeling even lower than a lowly criminal by thinking, "His unworthy natural character traits and poor upbringing mean that he has little appreciation of the need to live decently. Hence it is more understandable that he fails to exert the tremendous effort necessary to pull himself out of his degenerate lifestyle. I, on the other hand, know very well the value of good deeds. Thus, if I fail to exert myself with tremendous effort to perform good deeds, I am even worse than him!

Chassidic philosophy, however, elevates the concept of humility into another league altogether. This is related to the concept of divine unity, which is expressed in the verse, "Hear O Israel, G-d is our L-rd, G-d is One." (Deut., 6:4) This is commonly understood to indicate that there is no deity other than Hashem (G-d). However, according to the emphasis of the Ba'al Shem Tov, founder of Chassidic philosophy, not only is Hashem the only deity, He is also the only true Existence in the universe, the only true reality. This is the implication of the verse, "There is nothing else (other than Him)." (ibid., 4:35)

Thus, our perception of ourselves and the world around us as forces independent of G-d is in fact incorrect. The awareness that our very sense of existence is a contradiction to the true divine reality can bring us to a sense of humility on a level far deeper than any of the levels described above, for they all relate only to preventing arrogance from one's talents, and take for granted the person's basic sense of his existence.

Divine appreciation should lead to good deeds

On 18 June we discussed further the concept of appreciating G-d through studying the complexity within nature. By studying G-d's handiwork we learn about Him, just as a painting brings us knowledge of the painter. The more complexity one sees, the greater is this appreciation. However, one should make sure to apply the conclusion of this meditation to oneself, and consider to oneself: "If G-d created everything else to serve a purpose, then I too have a purpose that I must fulfill: to do good deeds and contribute to society."

Alexey, Brigitte, and Jason came, and we welcomed Margaret and Frankie.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Appreciating the Creator in nature

In the Monotheism Centre Class last week Brigitte, Alexei, and Peter came, who again brought along his friend, Michael. We welcomed Jason again.

We discussed the Torah perspective on the tremendous complexity of G-d’s universe, and how we have an obligation to study the complexities of the creation (and share this knowledge with others) in order to know the Creator and truly appreciate His beauty and His blessings.

The main thing when studying the beauty of nature is to constantly remind oneself that it is a divine expression and gift. He who forgets this misses the point completely, no matter how great his grasp of the wonders of nature. This can be compared to a wife who appreciates the beauty and value of the diamond gift her husband gave her, but becomes egotistically engrossed in the gift and forgets about the husband. The whole purpose of the gift and of comprehending its value is to draw the husband closer to the wife. Thus, if this goal is not achieved, the gift is worthless. Thus, the child who thanks G-d for a tasty lolly is spiritually higher than the professor of science who chooses to be an atheist.

We also discussed the concept that the tremendous multiplicity in nature points to G-d’s omnipotence; He’s not compelled to create the universe in any particular way. Rather, the fact that He created it as He did was purely because He so chose.

Friday, June 8, 2007


Hi! My name is Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver, and I'm an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi. Welcome to this blog for my classes, which are Australia's first regular classes devoted to disseminating the Universal Principles of Torah to all mankind, also known as the Laws of Noah. I am based in Melbourne.

In this blog I hope to report upon the latest classes. We've been holding classes for several years now, but in a low-key fashion. However, in order to bring more people to join in and emulate these activities, more publicity is needed--and that's the purpose of this blog.

Ultimately my hope is that from these modest beginnings this will grow into a thriving centre of ethical and spiritual growth for all, where the rich, nay, neverendingly profound but universally relevant teachings of the Torah will be disseminated to as many people as possible, all with the goal of preparing the world for the imminent arrival of the Moshiach, the Jewish Messiah.

Here is a picture of last week's class, on Monday 28 May 2007. Old-timers Alexei and Peter attended, and we welcomed Brigitte again. For the first time Gena brought along his friend, Wha, and for the first time Peter brought along his friend, Michael.

We discussed the Torah perspective on the reasons that we sometimes fail to recognise G-d's blessings and thank Him for them:

1. overinvolvement with material acquisition, which prevents one from enjoying the blessings one already has;

2. the consistency of the blessings over a lengthy period brings us to take them for granted;

3. a sense of estrangement from G-d due to a lack of deeper comprehension of the purpose of suffering:

3a. as a means to bring one to revealed blessing;

3b. to elevate the person by testing him (to see whether he will remain loyally devoted to G-d despite the suffering), so he will receive more reward in the world to come;

3b. to cleanse him of his sins, so he will receive his punishment in this world and his reward in the next, which is the scenario that G-d prefers for the righteous, rather than the reverse, which G-d prefers for the wicked.