The Foundation Stone
Newsletter             July 9, 2009 - 17 Tammuz 5759

  Mustard, Emperor Asoka and Einstein
I recommend spending July 4th with Americans, certainly not French men and women who insult American mustard. This, despite the fact that our mustard's name is French's! The French, who outnumbered the real Americans, insisted that only their mustard is real and that American mustard is lacking. I, in broad-minded gratitude to the French for their support of the American Revolution, was willing to allow that their French mustard was, shall we say, tasty. But they refused to even acknowledge the advantages of American mustard. "Fake!" was what they said.
These disloyal citizens (and students) would do well to read Emperor Asoka's pillar, which reads: "One should not only honor one's own beliefs and condemn the beliefs of others, but one should honor other's beliefs. So doing, one helps one's own beliefs to grow and renders service to the beliefs of others as well. In acting otherwise one digs the grave of one's own beliefs and also harms others."
I am not so open-minded that I honor all beliefs.  I live by certain principles that I will not compromise. However, we will benefit by recalling the words of Albert Einstein: "A human being is part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something personal separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affections for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." That includes authentic French's, my dear French friends! I hope that their position in The War of The Mustards is not an indication of their approach to Torah and serving God. In fact, they are very broadminded in all matters not French.
The Foundation Stone is designed to give voice to many contributors, many of whom have different perspectives. We constantly receive comments on our essays and The Foundation Stone Blog from diverse opinions and approaches. Our goal is to expand our virtual Beit Midrash of people searching for more meaning in their spiritual lives.
Jeremiah, never hesitant to challenge our beliefs, speaks to us in this week's Haftarah: Fearing Greatness. The Music of Halacha offers an interesting perspective on rebuke in The Messy Essence of Friendships. Table Talk: Pinchas challenges us to consider The Gift of Kehunah and Moshe's Prayer. Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg offers another wonderful The Torah Connection. Rabbi Chaim Goldberger, our most popular essayist, offers another Voice of Torah. The Heileger Chana Chaya continues her Life Lessons with The Secret of Happiness. Bentzion of Medziboz takes us back to Ukraine to visit with the Baal Shem Tov with his story The Sudden Awakeing, and offers us another opportunity to sit and learn at the feet of the Baal Shem Tov in his Keter  Shem Tov. Heshie Hagibbor presents another brilliant insight into the portion with What Happened to The Names? El-Ad begins his series Nah'ah'seh v'Neeshmah - Spiritual Practices and Their Benefits in his new column on Spiritual Practices.
We are proud to offer a special series on the 5th Blessing of the Amidah: Teshuva, and another series on the Lamentations/Kinot of Tisha B'Av. You will find commentaries on both the website and the blog.
Please visit the blog for Talking About Listening, The Silent Symphony, The Attached Cover, Notes on Tefillah Class: The 19 Steps to God, The Manichaean Candidate , Rabbi David Lapin, Notes on Eichah and  much more.

I plan to break my fast with some authentic French's mustard. Join me.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg
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