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Jane, sorry my answer was short I was trying to get off the computer.
And your first question (the one I responded right after) was so filled with questions about the chance to go to heaven, something we just don't dwell and focus on (at least none of the various denominations in my family and community). Thus my quick blurb.
I am happy the more articulate and knowledgeable women were able to make it more clear. I do want to apologize for being so short though.
No worries! Your response actually made me ask more questions that otherwise I might have not thought to ask.
I guess I do think a lot about heaven and hell, I think partially because the closest people in my life: my mother and my grandmother are both dead now. I think about how they (both Jewish) lived in USSR and how they had no chance to follow religion especially Judaism. I guess, I'm worried about what awaited them in another life and I guess I'm a little too fixated on afterlife then I should be.
Is there an overall view/belief about what happens to this world from Judaism POV? Is there a view about end of times, or what happens after Messiah comes?
(FYI: I promise, I will NOT bring up my own views of Messiah or the end of times).
"Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible." (William Shakespeare -- Julius Caesar)
Well, the Rambam (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon -- popularly known as Maimonides) writes extensively about Moshiach (Messiah), and techiyas hameisim (re-awakening of the dead) but it is extremely esoteric and difficult to understand without a thorough Torah background. He focuses on this in Moreh Nevuchim (Guide to the Perplexed) as well as Perek Helek (where he writes the 13 Attributes of Faith) but it is not for those ignorant of serious Torah learning (I include myself in that by the way).
I will try and find something succinct -- it may take me some time.
I really don't think I'm the best one to answer this question but let me at least attempt, and hope I can in some way add something. I think the situation is considered different in the example you gave (that of your grandmother and mother). The expectations, opportunities and knowledge are hard to compare between one person/situation and the next. That is one reason why we feel only Hashem can judge where someone belongs on the "ladder". I know of people in the USSR who risked their lives to do a "simple" mitzvah. How can I say that their "simple" mitzvah is greater than more of mine? (Note: We also don't know which mitzvah is "greater"). I also may not be the best one to ask as my DH was born and raised in the USSR.
By giving your sister a wedding you mean?
Is your sister Jewish?
I'm just trying to tease out the different points.
Sara, good answer!
Ok, so what the cup of salvation mean in this verse?
Ps 116:13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.
And in this verse, what is Hannah referring to?
1 Sam 2:1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.
I looked up salvation and it is mentioned a whole lot in the Psalms.
Sometimes it refers to salvation from something specific, but often times it does not seem to. Here are a few of the verses:
Ps 119:166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
Ps 119:174 I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.
and I also found salvation mentioned here:
Is 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
Is 12:3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
(I checked those against my Jewish bible then I found one online.)
So, there is also these verses:
Is. 45:21 Let them stand and present their case! Indeed, let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, announced it in times gone by? Wasn't it I, ADONAI? There is no other God besides me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 22 Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God; there is no other.
Is 52:17 But Isra'el, saved by ADONAI with an everlasting salvation, you will never, ever, be ashamed or disgraced.
21 Let them stand and present their case! Indeed, let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, announced it in times gone by? Wasn't it I, ADONAI? There is no other God besides me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 22 Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God; there is no other.
What is being referred to here as an "everlasting salvation"?
|My understanding of the word mitzvah comes from a shiur (talk?) I heard by Rabbi Akiva Tatz from simpletoremember.com
He says that mitzvah does have a sense of the word commandment, but that it means more deeply and more closely the word connection. That we use the mitzvot (and these are specific "commandments" given by G-d) to make a connection b/w our soul and our bodies. To produce change in the world, spiritual change in the physical world.
It was a very interesting discussion. If you want me to link lemme know.
|Also, the 10 Commandments are considered, my understanding is, to be categories of commandments. A way of briefly grouping the 613.
I believe that this is fairly accurate: http://www.jewfaq.org/10.htm
Here is a discussion (very basic, though it says advanced) of the 613.
This quote: "Be as meticulous in performing a 'minor' mitzvah as you are with a 'major' one, because you don't know what kind of reward you'll get for various mitzvot." reminded me of something someone said above, but I forget what.
|Also, in regards to Jews born in the USSR etc. I heard another lecture recently about lost children. Lost children are those who would be lost from their families and raised by wolves. Many people in our generation are considered lost children. My understanding was that in Judaism lost children are not considered responsible for the mitvot. If they have not learned how can they do?|
|Finally, I think what the woman did for your sister JanesLovesMax was a great chesed (kindess).|
|Oh, and the mikvah does not wash away our sins. It transfers us from a state of spiritual impurity or separation to a state of spiritual purity or togetherness. (This is a very difficult concept, I think, to explain. For instance, a person could/should (?) go to the mikvah after caring for a dead body..in which certainly the live person has done nothing wrong.)
As someone said above "sin" is more like missed the mark.
|Gen'l ramblings as usual.|
That brings me to a question: What exactly is the meaning of "mitzvah"? Does it just mean "good deed" or is it the specific deed that is in the Torah, such as a certain commandment?
|Can I bring up an example and you can let me know if it's considered "mitzvah"? When we came to USA, my sister was working as a housekeeper in an Observant Jewish home. The owner of the house was the sweetest woman and she offered to throw my sister (who got married in USSR) a proper Jewish wedding. My sister agreed and she had a proper Jewish wedding with Rabbi and men were separate from women.|
|But not only that, my sister was required to clean herself in the water, (not sure how this proceedure is called) to clean off her sins. Curiously, my sister got pregnant right after the wedding after 3 year of trying. Did this woman perform "mitzvah"?|
You asked some good questions. Again, I may not be the best one to answer you but I'll give it a try (especially since I didn't see the other responses first).
A mitzva refers to a commandment from Hashem. "Good deed" is often how it is translated but it is rather inaccurate. To give an example, how does one determine what is a "good" deed as opposed to a "bad" deed. The ultimate good is defined by Hashem so leaving "good" and "bad" up to the individual or society means the term changes as society/people change. I hope that makes sense.
Helping out another person is a mitzvah. Not only that, she enabled your sister to perform a mitzvah by having a proper Jewish wedding and doing the many mitzvos involved in the ceremony, etc... . Your sister did the mitzvah of being married according to Jewish law and doing the many mitzvos involved in the different aspects.
I'm assuming you are refering to the waters of the mikva. Your sister did a tremendous mitzvah by going into the mikva waters. This woman did perform a mitvah by enabling your sister to perform her mitzvah. She also did many other mitzvos but I'm trying to keep it brief.
I do want to clarify a point. There seems to be some confusion. Your sister did not go into the mikva to clean off her sins. There is no such concept in Judaism. A woman who has mensturated (as well as other uterine bleeding) has entered the state of "tumah", specifically "tumas nidda". Until she (and all Jewish women) had immersed in a mikva, (after following the proper procedure) she was unable to be physically intimate with her husband. By going into the mikva (or as we call it "toiveling") she has removed the status of tumas nidda and entered the state we would call "tahara". I am purposely using the hebrew terms for tumah and tahara as there is truly no English equivalent.
Interestingly enough, she is not the first woman with fertility issues to conceive after their first dunk in the mikva. This is not to say that the mikva ends infertility, there are a number of Jewish women who follow the laws of mikva and still have trouble becoming pregnant. But, it is still an intersting point to note.
I hope this didn't confuse you more or offend someone.
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