Thursday, November 20, 2014

Beautiful without and within

Dear friends,

Over the past six weeks I haven't been able to write a dvar Torah  due to  ALS which has weakened my hands to the point that I can't type. Baruch Hashem we live at a time that technology has developed a way to type using my eyes. It takes longer but you're worth it. 

Your  friend, 

Yitzi

In this week's parsha, Toldos, it talks about Yitzchak's life after the passing of his father, Avraham. 

A big emphasis is put on the fact that he was digging wells. First he unearthed wells his father originally dug, but the locals filled. Then he dug new wells. Finally it tells of how his servants, who were digging a well, came to him and said "we found water". 

It seems that digging wells was central to who he was and a defining feature in his service to Hashem. While his father, Avrohom, worked on getting people to follow Hashem, Yitzchak dug wells. 

What is the deeper meaning in digging a well?  What lesson are we to take from Yitzchak Avinu? 

To dig a well, you first need to believe that there is water. Then comes the hard work, digging deeper and deeper until you find the water. 

On the surface a person may not be happy with who he /she is, he  has to know that on the inside there is "water ", there is a beautiful person. All he needs to do is "dig",  to  work on himself. 

If you keep digging you will surely find water. 

First came Avrohom, who taught us to change the way you should act on the outside. To act the way Hashem would want you to. 

When you do this you  may feel like a fake, putting on an act. Realize, that it is a false perception. Deep within you are perfect. 

Yitzchak teaches us the next step. Now that you are beautiful on the outside, start digging, find the beauty within. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Year Requests

This year parsha Hazinu is read on Shabbos Shuva. In it you have the song of Hazinu which is a teaching, a rebuke, a warning, a promise and a prophecy wrapped in one. 

We lived with this song all week, starting last Shabbos, the 25th Elul, the first day of creation, by mincha. Ending on Rosh Hashanah, the day man was created. 

It all fits nicely together. Rebuke all week followed by a promise of redemption on Rosh Hashanah. 

The same heaven and earth created at this time is called to be witness for all eternity. That the words of Hazinu be fulfilled.

What is the connection between Rosh Hashanah and Hazinu?

In addition, on Rosh Hashanah we ask for our needs. Seems shallow that on such a holy day we preoccupied with our mundane needs. Why is this day set aside for asking?

In Hazinu the purpose of creation is clearly defined. Our mission to do HaShem's will, by which,through our effort, we develop this world into a dwelling place for HaShem, where He is revealed to all, realized at the time of the redemption. 

Rosh Hashanah, the day Adam was created, the mission of man began. Every year we go to shul pledging to continue and finish the mission. That's why we ask for our needs on Rosh Hashanah, we are asking for what we need to accomplish our mission. So don't be shy, ask well. 

May we see our mission fulfilled and witness the final redemption this year. The sooner the better. 

Have a happy and sweet new year!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Standing Still Getting Closer

This week we read a double parsha, Nitzavim - Vayelech. 

Nitzavim is always read on the shabbos before Rosh Hashanah, while Vayelech is read either on the shabbos before or after Rosh Hashanah. Either way, there must be a Rosh Hashanah lesson for us here. 

Nitzavim, means standing firmly. Vayelech ,means and he went. These seem to be opposites. Standing or going? You can't do bot, or can you? How can you stand and go at the same time?

We all serve HaShem. Our service is clearly proscribed down to the detail. Our job is to be Nitzavim, standing firm, doing the mitzva in it's exact prescribed manner. Not to be influenced by those who say lighten up, so what if you change it up a bit. 

On the other hand we don't want to be robots, just going through the motions. That's where Vayelech comes in. Vayelech is movement and change, not in the action of the mitzvah, but in the intent. Every day, as we learn and get a deeper appreciation of HaShem, it intensifies the meaningfulness of our service to him. The mitzvah done as proscribed "stands firm" but our expression of it "goes" ever higher. 

On Rosh Hashanah we renew our commitment to HaShem, to do his will for another year. Not just in action but also by adding in depth. 

The same idea could be seen in our personal relationships.

Sometimes, as time is passing, our lives seem to be bland and repetitive.  Keeping our responsibilities, being a good husband or wife. What is now needed is time to get to know your spouse better. As your appreciation for each other grows, your responsibilities will become more joyous and more meaningful. 

Regularly set aside time to talk and get to know each other better.  This will do wonders for your relationship. 

Have a happy and sweet New Year. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Your Effort Makes a Difference

This weeks parsha, Ki Savo, is always read on the second shabbos before Rosh Hashanah. There must be a message here to help us, in preparation for the great day. 

The parsha opens with the mitzva of bikurim, first fruits. 

First fruits were marked, later to be brought in a basket to the temple and placed near the alter. The cohen would then enjoy the fruit. 

The wealthy brought their fruits in a silver basket, while the common folk brought theirs in wicker baskets. Those who brought silver baskets would  later take them home. However, those who brought wicker baskets, would leave them in the temple. 

One would think that it should be the other way around. The wealthy, who could afford it, should leave their silver baskets. The poor, who struggle, should be able to take their baskets home. 

For the wealthy businessman the mitzva if bikurim was special. Being busy, he didn't have time. He just grabbed his silver basket, put the fruit in and went. 

For the common folk, this mitzva was so precious. The thrill inside, "I get to bring a gift to the temple". Lovingly they handcrafted their baskets, especially for this mitzva. 

These wicker baskets were so precious to HaShem because of all the love, time and effort that went into them. Therefore, He wanted them.  The silver baskets, beautiful as they are, did not have the same love, time and effort. Therefore, take them home. 

How will you prepare for Rosh Hashanah? Will you lovingly collect your fruit? Will you take the time to consider your past years performance of mitzvah and how you will improve in the coming year? Will you spend time preparing yourself for the holiday or will you just show up?

Your effort is important and precious to HaShem. He wants it, He appreciates it, He loves it. 

The same is true for our relationships. In our busy lives many of our gestures are last minute. Nice as they are, they are not the same as those we put time and effort into. While both are positive, the effort, time and love adds dimension, depth, and meaning. Try it, and you will see. 

Have a happy and sweet New Year. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

This weeks parsha, Ki Seitzei, tells us: "If there is a quarrel between  (two) men, who come to court to be judged, the innocent one will be acquitted and the guilty one will be condemned."

In the Torah there is nothing extra. Here, however, there seems to be extra words. The verse starts "If there is a quarrel" it could have started "men, who come to court..." Isn't it obvious that there is a dispute, when two men come to court?

Then it continues "the innocent one will be acquitted and the guilty one will be condemned." What other option is there? Isn't that what a court ought to do?

This is a special case. First the two men were quarreling, from the fighting a dispute arose. When they come to court the judges recognize that this case started as a quarrel. They might be tempted to deal with the true underlying issue instead of judging the case at hand. The Torah tells the court to judge the case properly. 

There is a message here for us all. Don't think that quarreling with a friend is ok. Ultimately it will escalate and you will end up in court. Your case will not be judged according to your feelings but by the law. 

We each need to think about our relationships. Is it really worth fighting with friends and family. How many of us haven't spoken to a friend or, even worse, a family member for a long time because of some petty matter?

Don't let it come to that. Wether you feel innocent or guilty in the situation, it's not worth the constant fighting, bickering and hurting. 

Sometimes we lose focus, forgetting that HaShem puts us in our situation. We start to feel negative about ourselves and everyone around us.  Then the quarreling begins.    

Practice recognizing HaShem's hand in all that happens. It will keep you positive. 

Life is short. Be positive and easy to get along with. Be a good friend and good family. Let the petty stuff slide. Be happy, friendly and smile a lot.

You will positively change the world for the good, and you will bring out the positive In those around you. 

(I would like to thank my wife Dina for her input in writing this post.)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Closer to HaShem Closer to Your Spouse

The month of Elul always begins around parshas Shoftim. Which speaks of appointing judges, appointing a king and cities of refuge. 

As there are no coincidences, we must ask: What lesson can we learn here?

Now is the time to get closer to HaShem. Not physically, but mentally and spiritually. 

Shoftim means judges. Now is the time to take an account of the past year. To judge yourself and see if you have used your abilities to the fullest to fulfill HaShem's will. Knowing where you stand is a great motivator. This is dealing with the past. 

"Appoint a king over yourself". Excepting HaShem as your king will move you to want to do his will, strengthening your commitment to HaShem. This is dealing with the future. 

The month of Elul is a "sanctuary city" in time. The idea of a sanctuary city is a place to go for atonement. It's an open opportunity to get closer to HaShem  as HaShem's arms are open to forgive us. 

HaShem, our king, is in the field. He is smiling and he grants good to us all. All we need to do is go out and meet him. This is a great opportunity, don't waste it. 

On a personal level. Many of us are in relationships that just seem to be on auto pilot. We don't even realize that our significant other is hurt by this. We think all is fine. 

If you think everything is fine then you need to follow the next steps. 

Ask yourself. When was the last time you sat together and talked a about what is important. Take an account of your relationship. This is dealing with the past. 

Recognize the other in the relationship. Ask. What is his/her needs? If you can't figure out on your own, ask the him/her to tell you or to write it down. Strengthen your commitment to each other. This is dealing with the future. 

Finally don't be afraid to go down this road, because bettering your relationship is something you both want. Your significant other will be more than glad to work with you to better your relationship.

Just imagine coming to shul this Rosh Hashana knowing that you are one with HaShem and one with your spouse. What a way to start the year. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hidden Good

This weeks parsha, R'ay, starts off: Behold I give before you a blessing and a curse...

This is HaShem speaking to the Jewish people (through Moshe). We must ask: If HaShem is all good what does it mean that He gives a curse? 

Especially here HaShem refers to himself  as Anochi (אנכי) which is not one of HaShem's names. Anochi means "I". When HaShem refers to himself as Anochi it is referring to his essence, greater than any of his names. The quintessential "I", HaShem's essence. How is it possible that the essence of HaShem be connected to a curse?

Targum Yonason translates the word וקללה (curse) וחילופא (and it's exchange). In other words there is a blessing and then something other. Similar but different. 

There are different kinds of blessings. There are superficial blessings the ones we all see. Basic pleasures we recognize as good. Then there is a deeper good wich comes into the world through difficulty and suffering. We don't see them as blessings at the onset however with time we recognize how they are truly blessings. 

Many times, it's the suffering, that brings the greatest amount of change in the world. 

As many witnessed this week,  how a disease like ALS, bright so much joy, positivity and togetherness. Throwing a bucket of ice and water on the head.  How many good deeds, kindnesses, prayers & friendship were generated? 

So the verse could be understood like this 
Behold I give before you a revealed blessing and a concealed blessing. 
Anochi, HaShem'sessence then is only connected to blessing. Different kinds of blessing. 

Unfortunately, no one is free from suffering. Recognizing that I it's from HaShem will keep you positive. As you will be filled with a sense of deep purpose knowing that your suffering is making a difference. Accomplishing a great good for HaShem. 

May HaShem send clear, open revealed blessing. There is no need for suffering anymore. We are all ready for moshiach to come.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Because We Believe

In this weeks parsha, an uncommon word עקב, Eikev, is used to say "because". Rashi explains that this refers to seemingly less important mitzvahs, that get trampled under the עקב (heel). That "because" we will listen and do those mitzvahs, we will be blessed with a whole list of blessings, including miraculous victories over those we fear. 

What is the connection between these mitzvahs and miracles?

Thinking of mitzvahs, there are the ones we see as important.  We focus our energy on those, while other mitzvahs end up trampled under our heal. Our yetzer hora, evil inclination, convinces us that it makes sense to focus on these, while pushing off the others. 

The idea of Eikev is to take a different approach to mitzvahs. To defy our yetzer hora and dooing the mitzvahs, because they are HaShem's will. Then all mitzvahs are seen as equal. We do them because we are מאמינים בני מאמינים, believers children of believers. It is excepting beyond our minds understanding. 

When we take this approach toward HaShem and mitzvahs, going beyond our understanding and doing His will, He in turn goes beyond the natural order to treat us to miracles. 

Here is what we could do to help our brothers and sisters all over the world and especially in israel. By taking on those mitzvahs we routinely push off using logical arguments. Doing them only because HaShem wants us to. 

Watching the soldiers in Israel, dancing together, more observant and less observant together, singing we are believers the children of believers. It warms my heart, because I know that we are in good hands, HaShem's. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Marriage Tips for Men Part I

Marriage Tips Part I
Printable Color Infographic PDF by Adai Ad  
After giving this advice to a choson (a groom), I showed it to a few of my wife's friends. Their response was unanimous. "Would you share this with my husband?" 

I am sharing it in the hope that it will help. 

Here are a few small and easy things that will make your life better. 

1) When she does or says something hurtful. Which WILL happen. Just forget what she said or did. Women get emotional and and irrational. 

But be careful, she will never forget anything you do "wrong". 

2) Before you criticize her, ask yourself if it really matters in the long run, are you better off letting things slide?

3) Be ready and happy to go to counseling. Even and especially in the first year. You will be grateful if you do. Better deal with a small issue now and learn to get along, than a huge unfixable problem later. 

Simply put. What makes sense to you, sounds silly to her and vice versa. Because women think in a totally different way. Counseling will help. 

4) Find ways to make her laugh every day. 

Women think too much and they need a rest from their brain chatter. Laughter gives them rest from it. She will appreciate it. It doesn't matter, even small funny things. 

5) Never raise your voice. It effects women with an instinct to be afraid, flee and protect. You will have a hard time getting back to normalcy. 

You might not realize that among men we raise our voice a lot. It's hard to change gears. 

We yell to make a point. Women only yell if they are angry. When your voice goes up they register he is angry at me. 

6) Compliment her every day. Find things to compliment. It could be something she did. Something she is wearing. Let her know that you notice and value her. 

7) Buy her flowers. Flowers say a lot. 
It says I like you. It says I am thinking of you. It says I appreciate you. It says you are beautiful to me. It says you are a princess that deserves pretty things. 

It says ״although I'm a guy and flowers that will die in a week are the biggest waste of money and makes absolutely no sense, you are still more than worth it to me".

If you are low on cash buy one flower or, even better, pick some wild flowers. 

8) Ignore statements such as "you don't have to buy me a gift for my birthday". 
Buy her a gift. 

9) Treat her with respect. Do chivalrous things. Open the door for her. Help her on with her coat. Help her into her seat. Bring her tea in a pretty cup and sit with her and listen. Let her feel taken care of. Make her feel like a princess. Every woman wants to feel like a princess. Of course you won't be able to do it all the time, but do it often enough that she knows.  

10) When she gets dressed nicely, take a moment and notice and tell her how pretty she looks. She spent a lot of time and energy getting dressed. Let her know that you appreciate her. Learn these words...
Pretty
Elegant
Classy
Amazing 
Gorgeous 
Exquisite 
Stunning
Breathtaking. 
Try to use the right term. 

This is by no means finished. I hope to continue with more. Hope it brings a positive change to your marriage.

Marriage Tips For Men Part II: How To Listen
Marriage Tips For Men Part III: What to say to your wife and how to say it 
Marriage Tips For Men Part 4: Making A Home   

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Listen, Understand, Love

In this weeks Parsha, Vaeschanan, in the second verse of the Shema, we are commanded: And you should love HaShem...

When it comes to loving someone, you either do or don't. You cannot be commanded to love another. How then do we fulfill this commandment?

HaShem wants to be understood, known. The more we understand about HaShem the more we love him. Being that HaShem is infinite there is always more to know. 

To be loved, is to be understood. 

Most women know this naturally, as they yearn to be understood. When they are understood they feel loved. 

To understand, you must listen. To listen is to remove ones personal understanding and feelings on the subject and hear it from the other ones perspective totally. To listen is not just about hearing, it's about picking up on nuances such as facial expressions, body language and hints. To experience the other. 

Again, most women naturally know how listen, most men do not, hence the complaint "he doesn't listen". Good listening takes effort and could be exhausting. 

HaShem is saying, try to understand me, from my perspective. Hints are found all over the Torah. Pick up on the hints, listen. 

HaShem is asking us to understand: Why He created this world? How do we fit in the scheme of things? He wants us understand Him, to know Him. 

A hint to this is found in the first verse of the shema. 

שמע ישראל ה׳ אלוקינו ה׳ אחד. 
Listen Israel, HaShem is our GD, HaShem is one. 

In the Torah, this verse has two oversized letters ע and ד. Together they make up the word דע, to know or understand. 

שמע ישראל If you will listen. דע You will understand. ה׳ אלוקינו ה׳ אחד HaShem is our GD, HaShem is One. In other words, what HaShem is all about. ואהבת and then you will love HaShem...

Knowing HaShem's purpose, will motivate you and animate you, as you will find deep meaning in fulfilling HaShem's will. Not from a feeling of obligation but rather from love. 

Listen, understand, love. 

(For anyone wanting a deeper understanding of HaShem. I would suggest learning Chabad chasidus. Contact your local Chabad Rabbi for more info.)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Positive in Any Situation

This Shabbos is called Shabbos Chazon, the vision. Named for the Haftora, the vision of Isaiah.  

Our parsha starts with a rebuke of the Jewish people, Moshe lectures them on many of their failings. It ends, however, on a positive note. Moshe telling the, that when they enter the land and go up against Canaan, they should not fear, because HaShem will fight for them. 

So too in the Haftora, Isaiah starts his vision with a rebuke, only to turn around and end on a positive note "Zion will be redeemed through justice..."

These readings are always read on the shabbos before Tisha b'Av, the fast of Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. Commemorating the destruction of both our temples in Jerusalem and much more. 

The rebukes found in our Parsha and Haftora seem to fit the theme of Tisha b'Av, but how does the positive ending fit?

It is for us to realize, that though Tisha b'Av is a sad day, all the sadness connected to it, has a positive purpose. None of the suffering was in vane. 

Even more, we will see with clarity how our efforts and suffering, was that which accomplished the ultimate redemption. 

This helps answer a second question. 

When Moshiach comes Tisha b'Av will be celebrated as a happy day. Why? True all sadness will end, but it's history remains a sad one. 

When Moshiach comes, Tisha b'Av will be celebrated as a happy day. Not merely because all sadness will end, but even more we will see the positive in all the Tisha b'Av events. 

Each of us finds ourselves in difficult situations from time to time. It's hard to see the positive in it. But if you stop and recognize, that HaShem placed you in that specific situation, you will realize that there must be a positive purpose. Though you might not be aware of what the purpose is, you will be able to keep upbeat and positive. 

Now with our soldiers fighting for the safety of our brothers and sisters in Israel we must be positive and do our part by adding in Torah, teffila (prayer), and tzedaka in their merit. Through this we merit the last words of our parsha "do not fear them, HaShem will fight for you". 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A visit. So little So Much.

Diagnosed with bulbar onset ALS otherwise known as Lou Gherig's disease. I am not able to speak, eat or drink. Barely able to walk with help. Left hand is useless and my right can do little. I sit most of the day in a power wheel chair which I'm grateful for. Thank GD I can see, hear, smell, taste and feel. It's just some muscles that stopped working. Most things are done for me as I am no longer able to do the do even the simplest of things on my own.

Many of you have taken the time to visit me. I want to describe how much your visits mean to me. 

A person in my situation could have been left, given basic necessities and go through life feeling alone. Thank GD my family loves me, they would never let me feel that way. 

When you visit, I am filled with the feeling of importance, kinship, love and joy, I feel like I matter to you and to the world. I am honored that you visited. The great feeling inside is one of elation and joy. It is one of the things that gives me life and strengthens my will to go on. 

All this and more just by coming and sitting with me. You don't have to worry about what to say, It's unimportant. Of course some conversations will be more interesting then others. In some I might even hear words of Torah. The most important thing is that you came. 

In the past I would be the visitor but now, being the visited, I have gained a whole new perspective. When the chachamim tell us that visiting the sick takes away one sixtieth of the illness, it is not that you just removed illness, but even more, you added life. 

With this in mind, consider making it a part of your schedule to visit the sick in your community. 

Thank you for your visit. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Together in Friendship


In this weeks parsha, Maasei, the borders of Israel are clearly defined. It also tells how to apportion the land. Every jew has a portion.

This parsha is always read during the Three Weeks. The time of year we mourn the destruction of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and the exile of our people.

What message is found in all this for us now?

Every Jew has a portion in the holy land. Showing a natural unity among us. It is specifically through brotherly love and unity that we merit the holy land.

When we are together in brotherhood, we are even stronger.  We help each other overcome obstacles.

Now, during the three weeks is a time to strengthen our bonds of friendship, especially with those we have the most difficulty. Now is the time to overcome our differences.

When Jewish people are unified with love and brotherhood it gives Hashem the greatest nachas. it is almost irresistible to Hashem, to see his children in a state of togetherness.

More than any Mitzvah, Ahavas Yisroel, love between Jews, is what will end this exile. We need Moshiach now more than ever.

Being the last Parsha in the book of Bamidbar , Numbers, we end with the call of chazak, be strong.

Our brave soldiers fight to protect our brothers and sisters in our land, we should do our part, learning extra Torah, praying, and giving tzedaka in their merit.

Let us wish them Chazak, be strong, we are with you and Hashem is with you. We are all in this together.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Stronger Through Difficulty


At the start of this weeks parsha, by the laws of Annulment of Vows, the tribes of Israel, usually called shvatim, instead are called matos.

Why the different word? What connection does it have to annulment of vowes?

Though the two words shevet and matteh are alike in meaning, roughly translate as stick or staff, they have fundamental differences.

Shevet refers to a branch still attached or recently  detached from the tree. It is still wet inside. Matteh however has been separated for a while and has had time to dry and harden.

A craftsman who wishes to create something of quality needs to be aware of the moisture content of the wood. The conditions the wood was subject to will also have an effect on the quality of the wood.

Today for example. Reclaimed wood (old wood once used in construction, resold and reused) is very sought after for its qualities that are not found in new lumber.

Next , the craftsman using his tools to saw, drill, chisel etc. the wood, brings out the true natural beauty and function of the wood.

Now, why would a person take a vow. When a person has a weakness bringing him or her to commit a sin. Taking a vow to abstain from it is helpful because of the strength and the fear of breaking that vow. However the vow doesn't change the person. For someone to annul this kind of vow seems counterproductive.

That is where the wise man comes in. The job of the wise man who does the annulment, is to help the one who took the vow work on himself to become stronger. To bring out strength from deep within to overcome the weakness. The vow would then be unnecessary.

Each of us is a matteh. HaShem puts us through all different kinds of situations, some happy and in some we suffer. However, we know that it is Hashem, the Ultimate Craftsman, who is putting us through these conditions and that He helps us overcome any obstacles he puts before us. We know that He will bring out our greatest potential.

The same is true of the Jewish people. Hashem has put us through all kinds of difficult conditions. Though we don't know why, we do know that he has a plan and that what He does is good.

By now we are an ancient piece of wood, we have been through so much, we are truly magnificent.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Taking an Unpopular Stand

Looking at this week's parsha, Pinchas, you can't help but think about Israel.

Our parsha talks about the laws of inheritance of the land of Israel.

Then, Moshe appoints Yehoshua to be the next leader. The one who would lead the Jewish people into the land of Israel.

It talks about the sacrifices brought at different times in our Holy Temple in Jerusalem, Israel.

The strange thing is, that this parsha begins in middle of a story about Pinchas, how he killed two people, thereby stopping a plague that took the lives of 24,000. For this, Hashem gave him the title of Kohen, priest, for him and all his future descendants and the namesake of our parsha, Pinchas.

What are we meant to learn from Pinchas about the land, the leaders, and the temple service of Israel?

There are times that we are faced with a dilemma: Do what is right or do what is popular?

Unfortunately it is very difficult to stand against what is popular, because "What will people say?", "everybody is doing it" and "they won't like me".

Pinchas was faced with this dilemma. No one was ready to stand up and do the right thing. In the face of that he stood up did what was necessary and saved the day. Stopped the plague, and is rewarded with the priesthood.

Same is true for the leadership of Israel. The whole world is against you but you need to do what is right. It is very difficult to be like Pinchas, but ultimately that's what stops our people from dying. That's how we inherit our land. That's leadership.

Same is true for each of us. Hashem chose us because we have it in us to stand up for what is true and what is right. If we do what Hashem wants in the face of what is considered popular, we too earn our title of ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש a kingdom of priests and a holy nation and we will merit to have our temple, the Beis Hamikdash, in Jerusalem.

Let's us daven that Hashem strengthen the leadership of Israel, that He keep our brothers and sisters there safe and that He protect our soldiers from harm.

Friday, July 4, 2014

How amazing are we?


In this week's parsha, Balak, we read how the wicked Balam sets out to curse the Jews but in the end, HaShem has him bless them instead.

Balam goes on to say prophecy of Moshiach's coming.

What purpose does it serve, for Hashem to have the prophecy of Moshiach's coming said specifically by a wicked, Jew hating person like Balam?

Just to add fuel to the fire. This prophecy is found in parshas Balak, which is named after another wicked, Jew hating king. There are no mitzvahs in this parsha and this parsha ends with the Jewish people reaching a new low. As far parshas go this one seems to be the lowest.

In what seems to be the lowest parsha, the lowest of people, Balam, prophesies the greatest event the jewish people will ever have. Which is one of the 13 principles of Judaism: the coming of Moshiach. Why?

This is truly a testament to the power of the Jewish people, to transform even the darkest of places, the darkest of situations.

We have the ability and the obligation to shine light and lift and transform even the lowest to holiness. What's more, Hashem puts us in these dark situations and gives us the power to transform them.

Now, When you lift from the bottom, you lift the whole thing.

That is the message found in the fact that the prophecy of Moshiach is found in this parsha, seemingly the lowest, by Balam the lowest of people. Even a Balam is changed to say Moshiach's prophecy.

How amazing are we?  Through us, the lowest, darkest situations and most evil people can and will be transformed to goodness and light . We are truly amazing.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

To be or to do? That is the question

Since I was a young yeshiva student, I've felt that the greatest accomplishment was to do what the Rebbe wants. 

There was a competing need/want, the need to be in the presence of the Rebbe. 

To be by the Rebbe or to do his work?

Though I was in his presence on many occasions, from the age of 16 whenever I had to choose between doing the rebbes work and being in his presence, doing his work always won out. 

It seemed clear That to be the Rebbe's soldier, accomplishing what he wanted was by far more important. 

Gimmel Tammuz 20 years ago, some were shattered, broken and it took them some time to pick up the pieces and figure out what to do next. Until this point, for them, being by the Rebbe was everything. What now?

For me it was sad but It didn't break me. It was clear. Just continue to do what the Rebbe wants. 

Ultimately I got the best of both. Being close on hundreds of occasions and doing the Rebbe's work. 

When I was close I felt that he was proud of me, I was his man, his soldier. 

Going onto Shlichus was just the next step as I was already a shliach. 

Now when you are the Rebbe's messenger, you are one with the Rebbe, you can't get any closer than that. 

The Rebbe is the Moshe Rabeinu of our generation. HaShem speaks through him. His mission is HaShem's mission. Doing the Rebbe's mission is doing HaShem's mission. Being his shliach makes you HaShem's shliach. You are then one with the Rebbe, one with HaShem.

Now that's close. 

What is there left to do? Just a little. 

You are the Rebbe's shliach or at least you could be if you chose. In your home, at work and wherever you are. 

This way we will accomplish the mission. We will bring Moshiach and be once again in his presence.