Parshas Vayigash
Bereishis 44:18 - 47:27

How Can I Help End Human Suffering? ©

By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Channah Sakash Belk, may she rest in peace.

Last week we discussed How G-d Is With Us. This week we discuss what G-d reveals to us... And acting on what G-d reveals to us...

Yitzchok knew that Yosief was in Mitzriam. Why didn't he tell his son Yaakov? The ten sons of Yaakov knew Yosief was in Mitzriam. Why didn't they share this with their father and stop all this needless suffering? For nine years Yosief was Viceroy of Mitzriam. Why didn't he contact his father? Why didn't he put an end to all this needless suffering? How is it that Yosief's brothers did not recognize him? Yosief, his wife and children each dressed like the frum {Orthodox} Jews of their day. Yosief, his wife and children spoke Hebrew... How is it that all of this didn't register? Why didn't it?

Actually we live in a world where the very same thing goes on every day. We pass a beggar on the street, our first thought is, 'He needs a bottle of wine." At the end of a freeway exit someone holds up the sign, 'Please help! Will work for food..' We read on the internet, 'Dr. Belk fell and broke his foot and cannot work...'

Holy Classmate, there are so many signs of pain, suffering, and needs in our fast paced world that we become easily detached. Often they do not faze us. We push them off. We pass on the opportunity to allow them to be meaningful in our lives.

Caring In Trying Times
Recently my mother, Ethel Bas Channah passed on, may she rest in peace. Because my foot was broken and because I was unable to drive a stick shift it was necessary to depend on my wonderful wife, Naomi, for transportation to my parents' home some 45 miles away. I mentioned this recently in another lesson. We live in a mountain community. The year {5760} that I wrote this discussion we had received about seven snowstorms. This year {5764} is a very, very dry year. Four years ago Naomi was inexperienced in serious weather conditions. As it happens, the early morning that we left for Denver so I could pray / say kaddish in a minyan, a serious winter storm was underway. The roads were icy. The wind was blowing hard. Visibility was poor. Even though we left early we had only traveled a short distance by 8:00 am. We were already 30 minutes late for the minyan at our congregation. We were talking with the men by cell phone. They were waiting for us to arrive. Normally one could drive twice to Denver in this amount of time. We were on the same section of Interstate 70 where a few days earlier an eighty car pile up occurred with several fatalities. Only a few vehicles passed us as we crawled along. Many were along the drive offs putting chains on. Eventually all traffic came to a halt because of an accident. As a result, we didn't make it to Denver. By 8:30 even though we had been on the road for hours we had only traveled about 18 miles. It was dangerous and very frightening.

My youngest brother, Raphael Levi was also caught in the same horrible storm with his family and our youngest son Joel as they were trying to drive in from the west coast. They were involved in a serious accident on the same stretch of interstate. Thank G-d no one was hurt. They were able to continue on. We didn't make it to Denver. They didn't make it to our home. It was Yom She She {the sixth day}. This was very trying!

That Shabbat was difficult to say the least. Even though one is to be joyful on Shabbat it is difficult when one loses their mother. Momma, Naomi and I were close. We worried for my brother, his family and our son. A night earlier I dreamed they would have an accident and both my brother and our son would perish, G-d forbid! These kinds of thoughts torment one at times like these... Naomi and I prayed for their safety as well as ours...

What is the point of this story?

My brother and his party drove 23 hours without rest to get to Denver for Mother's funeral. They had a serious accident en route... they made it to Denver on Yom She She and spent Shabbat with my father. After Shabbat they had to return to L.A. immediately. But before they left my brother phoned. Naomi and I were planning to attempt another trip to Denver after Shabbat. Instead my brother said, 'Akiva, it is difficult for you to travel. Neither you nor Naomi can drive in the dark. Your foot is swollen! You're on medication. I want to stay with Dad as long as he desires then I want to come see you and Naomi. After we spend some time with you and Naomi we will travel on to L.A." At 12:30 a.m. Motzi Shabbos my brother arrived with his family and our son. We hadn't seen each other for a few years. We sat. We talked! We remembered! We cried! Four hours later they left for L.A. They arrived in L.A., thank G-d, at about 9 pm Sunday evening.

The point to this story is that it is important to be caring! When we care for each other it helps eliminate and reduce human suffering.

It is all too easy to ignore human signs of pain, suffering, and needs in our fast paced internet world. It is too easy to become detached from assisting our fellow human being. At this time of the year with Chanukah concluding we need to remember the importance of keeping the Chanukah light burning beyond the eight days with our actions of kindness to our fellow human being!

Yitzchok and Yaakov's ten sons and Yosief could have ended Yaakov's needless suffering but they didn't.

As Torah observant Jews and Spiritualists we understand it was necessary for Yosief to be separated from Yaakov for 22 years BUT IT WAS NOT NECESSARY for Yaakov to mourn 22 years. It was not necessary for him to suffer needlessly! This is a good time to be on the alert for those who are depressed and alone. Unfortunately there are so many who are and who will be hurting because of the pagan holiday of Christmas. While this non Torah holiday is intended to spread cheer and good will it is the result of considerable pain for many. This is an opportunity for Jews and Spiritualists NOT to celebrate with Christmas gifts.. not to celebrate with Christmas trees... not to celebrate with Christmas lights... not to celebrate with Christmas / New Year’s festive meals... not to celebrate with Christmas / New Year’s parties...

Please Be Careful To Not Support The Wrong Message...
Holy classmates, it is a mistake and a sin to perpetuate lies and falsehoods to our children. It is wrong to even give the impression of celebrating a Merry Christmas! It is wrong to wish someone a Merry Christmas. Why? Jesus is not the Moshiach! Christmas was instituted by a non Jewish, non Spiritualist religion over 350 years after Jesus’ birth. Christmas means Christ Mass. This is what one supports when they say have a Merry Christmas. One is saying have a happy, a good Christ Mass. Jews and Spiritualists need to be careful with their words!! Christ Mass is not founded in Ha Torah nor supported by Ha Torah!

In addition, Christian scholars openly admit that Jesus was not born on December 25th. They place Jesus’ birth around sometime between the fourth and fifth months of the Gregorian calendar. Holy classmates, how is it that Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25th? How is it that Christmas is celebrated with Christmas lights? Unfortunately Christmas was copied from the Jewish Celebration of Chanukah which is observed on 25 Kislev with the lighting of the Chanukah Menorah. What is the point? We should not support or encourage events that are not based in Ha Tenach.

Holy classmates, think about it. If one does not support this Jesus Mass known as Christ Mass one is portrayed as the grinch or scrooge. So how does one end human suffering at this strange time of the year? If we purport things that are not true, as Yosief’s brother did to their father regarding the death of Yosief, it will cause pain and suffering along the way and in the end. If we teach our children to observe Christ Mass or to believe in Santa we are encouraging falsehood.

Holy classmates, almost 1,000 years before the term Christ Mass was introduced our Creator spoke to the Novie {prophet} Jeremiah in Ha Tenach about the pagan custom of bringing a tree into one’s home.

Hear everything from Aleph to Tav of the Word which Hashem speaks to the House of Yisroel.

Hear! Hashem says, Do not LEARN in the path of other peoples. Do not be frightened by signs in the heavens for the peoples are frightened by them. For the practices of the nations are foolish. For one cuts a tree from the forest fashions it with artisan and adze and embellishes it with silver and gold then fastens it with nails and with hammers so that [the tree] cannot move. [This tree stands] upright like the palm tree. [This tree] cannot speak . [This tree] must be carried because it cannot walk. Be not afraid of [the tree] for [the tree] cannot hurt you neither can [the tree] do good. [Why?] For there is none like You, Hashem! You are Great and Your Name is Great! Jeremiah 10:1-6

Classmates, we have several issues here. It is a heathen practice of the nations to cut a tree from the forest fasten the tree so it stands upright and then to embellish it. They adorn it! The heathen practice was to worship this tree as if it were the Creator of the universe, G-d forbid! Somehow this pagan custom of adorning a tree from the forest became entwined with other inaccurate, misleading and false customs. The end result is you have Jesus’ birth celebrated on the 25th of December as Christ Mass not Chanukah. Christ Mass is fashioned after Chanukah, the Jewish victory over evil. The birth of Jesus is supposed to be the Christians’ victory over sin, death and evil. Christ Mass was again fashioned after the Miracle of Oil on the 25th of Kislev by lighting oil candelabras. This eventually led to Christ mass lights on the Christ Mass tree. Christ Mass trees are adorned with silver and gold which is a custom of the people’s pagan idol worship spoken of in Jeremiah.

Our Obligation Is To Teach Truth!
What is the point? Let’s return to the story of Yosief.

The brothers of Yosief sold the story... the fable... the falsehood... the lie that Yosief was dead. They misled their father Yaakov into thinking that Yosief had been attack and killed by wild animals. They knew the truth! They knew they sold Yosief into slavery! Yet for 22 years they taught their children and grandchildren something that they knew was not true.

- This is like celebrating Christ Mass for those that know Jesus is not the Moshiach.

- This is like placing a Christ Mass tree in one’s home knowing the origin is a pagan custom of idol worship.

- This is like teaching one’s children that some old white bearded man called Santa will bring them Christ Mass packages or Christ Mass gifts. ... Who is Santa? Why according to another religion Santa is a dissimulation of Santa Claus... which is a dissimulation of a fellow another religion christened as Saint Nicholas... Classmates, do you get the picture? On the one hand we condemn the wrong actions of Yosief’s brothers while on the other some of us do something that is much worse. Yosief’s brothers sold him into slavery. What do we do? Some of us teach our children the slavery of paganism!! Some of us practice the rituals of another religion! In so doing we create problems that we will later be sorry for.

The Results of Teaching and Supporting Pseudo Teachings
My first spouse and I before we were married constantly argued over which holiday we would observe, Chanukah or Christ Mass. Eventually I gave in.. What a mistake! I participated in teaching my sons about Christ Mass! I purchased a Christ Mass tree and placed it in our home. I helped decorate and adorn the Christ Mass tree with lights and silver and gold... I helped place either a star or a supposed angel at the tip of the Christ Mass tree. I taught my sons about Santa, G-d forbid!! I purchased Christ Mass gifts... Classmates, you may think, what harm will it do? You may think they will grow out of it... Why should they? Why should they stop observing the non Jewish non Spiritualist rituals taught to them from infancy by their parents? Why should they swim against the current their parents didn’t!

Holy classmates, we should reach out to the poor and needy at every time of the year. The joy that everyone claims to get at this time of the year should always be with us. The desire to be nice, to sing and to be joyful should be a part of every day’s prayers to our Creator each morning and evening. We should purchase gifts for those we love. Why do we need Christ Mass to remind us to do the good things in life? We don’t!!!

As Chanukah concludes, let's put forth the effort to keep the light - the correct light - burning all year with kindness, love and truthfulness. Our good actions should be all year! Our desires to contribute to charity should not need to be motivated by an individual standing outside a department store or grocery store ringing a bell. Our appreciation should be sparked and fed by Ha Torah! I cannot express how it pleases the Creator of the Universe to watch the classmates of BNTI study and study and study! As moreh I am excited to receive e-mail after e-mail expressing how the light of Ha Torah is changing our classmates’ lives.

Classmates, part of our change is to help support good organizations. Search out organizations that help the poor. Help support organizations that feed the poor... that care for the needy... that help humankind.. Organizations that do not include a few drops of Christ Mass teachings with their assistance to those in need!!

Get The Right Message With Your Gift Of Love
Last year Naomi was approached by a group of people who were seeking a contribution for Christ Mass baskets for the poor. She did not contribute. The need was real but the message was just as real. Naomi suggested that they change the name from Christ Mass baskets to something else. This year they used a different name. The name represented a different message. We contributed! The point is please contribute to the right... correct causes with the right... correct message!

It Is O.K. To Pay Tithes To BNTI Or To Give An Offering
We are one of many good institutes that would deeply appreciate your tithes and your benevolence. BNTI is a small institute! B’nai Noach Torah Institute is not a serious source of income for Naomi Leah or me. We do receive a few hundred dollars each month from BNTI. A little is through the sale of notes and CD’s through the Learning Store. At present nothing is derived through the Administration and Records fees even though we file and maintain each classmate’s records. Our present phone, internet and utility expenses are about $185.00 per month. The course tuition fees help to offset our monthly expenses. Sometimes if we have enough tuition classmates there is some extra. We are always grateful for those classmates who continue with us after the free course and for those classmates who assist in any way... The above expenses do not include computers or software. We recently purchased over $500.00 in software. We are presently updating our system...

Examples to follow
Naomi Leah and I are both employed. Naomi is employed full-time. I am employed part-time! Yet the classmates of BNTI require the majority of our time. What is the point? Classmates in love... and in kindness... and especially in truth... look at Naomi Leah’s example and my example. We teach giving of ourselves to the extreme!! We offer each classmate a free course if they agree to follow the rules of BNTI... We charge only a fraction of what our courses are worth in comparison to what one receives in return. So the point is even though the majority of our classmates have not learned about the Jewish / Spiritualist requirement for giving it is part of Ha Torah! Some of you have been so kind to inquire about giving tithes and offerings. Our response to your questions generally was to wait for the course in which we share about giving. The one thing we don’t want to do is to pressure our classmates or to try and guilt trip our classmates into giving. So all that I am saying is this, Naomi Leah and I do appreciate any gift to the Chessed Fund or the Seforim Fund and any tithe or offering to us, Dr. Akiva Gamliel and Naomi Leah. Why? Ha Torah does require each of us to pay tithes and to give offerings! We need your expression of appreciation. Ha Torah does not require any classmate of BNTI to give offerings or to pay tithes to BNTI or to us. Ha Torah does not teach give tithes because it is tax deductible. Ha Torah does not teach giving offerings because you are sick and want to be well. Ha Torah does not teach giving offerings because someone on T.V. or the radio or in a magazine or on the internet makes you feel guilty! This is Aw Room. And this type of action is normally a result of a person who uses Aw Room. One gives offerings out of love and appreciation not because of a sad story or a promise of hope.

Many years ago, as a Messianic congregation leader I received a phone call from a woman who wanted to attend our congregation. We’ll call her Rachel. She stated that she could not drive a vehicle and she would need someone to pick her up because she was in a wheelchair. At the time we had a van so I made arrangements to pick Rachel up. Rachel and I became acquainted through our frequent discussions as we rode to and from congregation together over a period of months. Sometimes Rachel would ask me to come in for a few minutes and say a blessing over her home. It was a very humble apartment for her and her teenage daughter. During one of these visits, Rachel stated that she was divorced, her husband did not pay child support or maintenance and that she was on Social Security. Another time Rachel expressed that her husband divorced her after the doctors determined she would never recover from the automobile accident that resulted in her being paralyzed from the waist down. Another time Rachel shared that it was necessary for her to wear an adult diaper and that it was embarrassing for her to go out in public but that she was so thankful that our congregation helped make it possible for her to get out of the house.

One afternoon Rachel requested prayer for healing. Several of us went to her apartment. She was so glad to see us. Again she expressed what a wreck her body was. She felt like left over pieces of what she use to be. She expressed how she use to be young and beautiful and vibrant before the accident. She lowered her head and wept in shame as she expressed how humiliated and foolish she felt for sending $2,000 to a TV evangelist. She said the man expressed over television that there was someone out there in a wheelchair who was sick and depressed and that G-d would heal her if she sent $2000.00. She did because she wanted to be well. This drove a wedge between her and her daughter. Her daughter ridiculed her because she only had a few thousand dollars left from her accident settlement.

Classmates, I hurt inside so deeply after hearing this story, I went home and cried. I was so angry. This action was nothing but an absolute act of Aw Room, of craftiness, of evil, of lying and stealing. Through the years I have seen scenarios like this repeated. It sickens me. AND I WANT TO MAKE ONE POINT VERY CLEAR: IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY AND YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO PAY TITHES OR TO GIVE AN OFFERING BECAUSE YOU ARE ON A LIMITED INCOME, HA TORAH RELEASES YOU FROM THIS OBLIGATON. Ha Torah does not teach anything about giving till it hurts. Ha Torah does not teach that one must give to receive. You cannot buy healing or health. Do not be taken advantage of by these liars that prey on the sick, the infirmed and seniors.

Why Do We Give More Than We Receive?
You may wonder why anyone would give more than they receive... There must be something fishy going on here... Talmidim and classmates, Naomi Leah and I are very, very thankful to our Creator for forgiving our sins... for drawing us back to Judaism... for helping us find each other... In part this is our way of saying, THANK YOU!

We believe in the message of Ha Torah! We try to live the message of Ha Torah! Part of Ha Torah’s message is to share Spirituality with non Jews. The first few years we mixed it up with Messianics over the New Testament, etc. Our message was we were right, they were wrong! We realized this is only making our readership angry. We did not like that... In the business world we believed that it is not right to just criticize. Criticism should also offer direction. So we realized that we needed to apply this same business understanding to our internet outreach. With the Creator’s help we established B’nai Noach Torah Institute with the intention of offering criticism and direction.

It is also our hope that over a period of time after our classmates learn about their responsibility to tithe and to give offerings that BNTI will be the recipient of our classmates’ obedience to Ha Torah. So what I am saying is even though we are happy to offer what we can of ourselves we do hope our talmidim and classmates will be obedient to Ha Torah and do what they can to become part of our vision and future.

Recently one of our dedicated classmates wrote to us expressing that given the present circumstances, she would not be able to do her Mid Term Exam on time. We understand this. And I would like to share a little bit of what I said to this classmate with you, our student body and our readership.

I understand. This time of year [winter] Naomi Leah and I normally work several hours after Shabbat ends on Yom Echad from around 6:00 PM till 8:00 PM. then do something together from 8:00 PM to 12:00 AM. Then we normally work from around 7:00 AM to around 10:00 PM. Every day is not the same, some days are 18 hours long and some are maybe 10. We try to pace ourselves. There is always more to do in a day than we can accomplish. We have not been caught up for years. This sounds awful to most people yet it is so often how it is for rabbium. Ha Torah teaches that one needs to develop different pleasures to help reduce stress. Part of our day is prayer. Part of our day is study of HaTorah. Part of our day is reading assignments. Part of our day is catching up on the news. So what I am saying is this, when possible it is nice to blend pleasure into our responsibilities. Some days requires a power nap. Naomi and I approach each day with the understanding that we can accomplish only so much. We must allow ourselves space as much as possible. Sometimes our lessons are sent out later than we want. We do not like this but we can only do so much.

I went on to offer some suggestions then concluded,

I pray that Hashem will bless you for your kindness to humankind and that He will grant you health and strength and a good relaxed mental attitude for each day. Thank you for learning with us. We want our lessons to encourage classmates and not burden them down. We are at that place in the course where everyone feels a little worn thin. After the mid term, things pick up. The second half of this course is lighter. You have done very well so far. Keep your chin up!

Blessings and peace!

Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

I wanted to share this note with you so that you will understand we need help. We need to be in the position to hire people to assist us. We need classmates who will eventually become talmidim and then become teachers at BNTI. Presently we do have some classmates who have moved a step closer to this goal of becoming a moreh {teacher} through BNTI... Yet that is some ways off. They’re a long time away at the pace of one or two courses per quarter. So the point is we know that we cannot go endlessly without changing our situation... As a result we keenly realize the need to teach Ha Torah’s instruction on tithing and giving offerings. This is not to say that we are suffering but it is to say that one should not have to reach the place where suffering is required. Those who love G-d and love Ha Torah help intervene...

At first Naomi Leah and I were reluctant to share about the responsibilities of tithing and giving offerings with newer classmates because the religious world has tainted, connived and deceived so many. However we have come to realize after several years of holding back in this area we shouldn't because we offer so many courses thank G-d, that in the natural course of events it will take a long time for our newer classmates to reach the courses where we teach about tithing. So G-d willing we will weave instruction of tithing and giving offerings into a few of our regular lessons. It is important to learn what Ha Torah teaches about tithes and offerings. One of our great responsibilities is to help the hungry and sick in our community and in the world. Another one of our responsibilities is to support organizations with a Torah based message. What is that message? Give love... Give kindness.. Give food... Give knowledge... WITHOUT ATTACHMENTS! In other words, the message of good is in the good that we do. Today’s message is to give to the right organizations. Our responsibility is to be our brother’s keeper. Our responsibility is to help our neighbor.

When we give we should not only give out of love but we should give in the loving memory of an individual who is dear to us. One may give in behalf of an individual who left this world as a mess. Why? Any good we do in behalf of another helps to elevate their neshamah {soul} in the afterlife. It is not complicated. If your children do good who is this a reflection on? Who receives some credit?

Naomi was recently honored for her outstanding job performance. This is a reflection on Naomi. It is also a reflection on those that employed her and those who direct her at work.

Talmidim and classmates, it is a great Mitzvah to remember a close relative or loved one when one makes a contribution. So whenever you share a gift of love please remember this. This is not a Torah requirement so don't feel like it is mandatory. This is a very special way of elevating the neshamah {soul} of a departed loved one or of one who needs elevating. This is a very great form of chessed { kindness} to those who have gone on. After we die we enter the world of Spirits. Our Original Operating System is completely restored. Our Neshamah does not contend with the Yetzer raw. So we don't have the same opportunity to do Mitzvahs in the HaShamayim {the heavens} as we do on earth. There is no challenge to do evil. Doing good is the norm. Our neshamah does good because that is the normal thing for a departed soul to do. So it is a special blessing when a loved one does a mitzvah in our behalf. At BNTI you notice that we dedicate lessons and class discussions in the memory of the departed. This is one of the reasons we do this...It is to keep their memory alive. It is to do good in honor of their memory! Doing good in the honor of their memory helps elevate their soul in the next world!

Again we return to Yosief who was mistreated by his brothers. He was sold into slavery. He spent 12 years in prison. Yosief could have been very angry with his brothers. As Viceroy of Mitzriam Yosief could have disciplined his brothers. He could have so to speak evened the score. Yosief as a wise leader did not use his power over others to mistreat his brothers. He used his power to protect and care for his father and brothers. This is a very great form of chessed. The world expects revenge not love... Yosief’s example teaches us to care for even the close relatives that have mistreated us if we are in the position to do so. Classmates, this is how we end suffering! This is how we make a difference. We support the right cause with the right message. BNTI is only one among many....

In several lessons throughout BNTI I share that Yosief was punished for requesting assistance from an officer of Pharaoh’s staff. This is true! Yet Yosief was on a much higher level of observance than we are. More is required for those on higher levels of observance and faith. So here I am saying to you Naomi Leah and I can use some help... Yet in doing this I understand it is our Creator that must motivate this request. I also realize that in part motivation results from teaching Ha Torah to those who are desirous of learning and observing. An important part of ending pain... suffering... is the responsibility of acting on what Ha Torah teaches.

Wishing you the very best,

Blessings and peace!

Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

Written in 5760
Updated in 5764

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