Thursday, January 29, 2015

Finding Strength in Impossible Situations

In this weeks parsha, Bishalach, Hashem had the Jewish people turn around and backtrack. They found themselves stuck between the raging sea and the nearing Egyptian war machine. They turned to Moshe and he turned to Hashem in prayer. Hashem said to Moshe "Why do you cry out to Me? Speak to the children of Israel and let them journey forth."

What lessons can we take from this? How does this connect with Yud Shvat?

We have been in exile for two thousand years. Our ultimate purpose is to transform this world into a place where Hashem's presence can dwell openly. That will happen with the coming of Moshiach.

The Rebbe, the Moshe of our time, gave us clear marching orders. Bring Moshiach now! In other words, it is in our ability to bring Moshiach.

Sometimes it feels like we are in an impossible situation, the whole world seems to be against us and we are backed against a raging tide.

At times like these, we need to realize that it is Hashem Who turned us around and put us into this situation. He wants us there. There is a purpose that can only be realized through this difficult situation.

Will we complain? Will we cry out to Hashem? Of course. Then we must lift our heads and forge ahead obstacles not withstanding. When we do that Hashem splits seas for us.

For the past three years I have been in a difficult predicament which seems to only get worse. Do I pray? Do I cry out to Hashem that He heal me? Yes, all the time. However, the illness has not broken my spirit because I know that Hashem put me here and that He wants me here. I don't like it, but I continue to do what I can to bring Moshiach, through my difficulties and even more, using my difficulties as a platform to lift others up.

Yud Shvat is all about solidifying our connection with our Moshe, the Rebbe, and to commit ourselves to the mission he laid out for us. Specifically to use our strengths, talents and situation to accomplish the mission.

You can do it, don't be afraid, Hashem is with you.

This is written in memory of Rabbi Ariel Rav-Noy.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Know Who You Are

In this weeks parsha, Bo, we are given the first mitzva, to sanctify the new month on the testamony of two witnesses who saw the birth of the new moon.

The words in the Torah that teach us this mitzva are "This month, for you, will be the first month". Hashem showed Moshe the sliver of the new moon and said "this" is how the moon should look.

At the same time, with the same words, we are taught: "This month" the month of Nissan, "for you" for the Jewish people, "will be the first month" or literally "the head of months".

Why is it so important for Hashem to tell us, by the first mitzva, that Nissan be our "head month"?

In the month of Nissan we became a people, in the month of Nissan we were redeemed. Asking us to consider Nissan as our head month, tells us that there is something about this month that defines us as a people.

"This month" has several names. It is called Nissan, which comes from the word nes, which means miracle. This teaches us that we are a miraculous nation, with miraculous abilities. We have the ability to change the world, to make the mundane holy by doing mitzvas. This is because though we have physical bodies we have been infused with a neshama, a soul, which is a piece of Hashem. This makes us a G-Dly people, above nature, inabeling us to take two opposites, holy and mundane and fuse them together. Making the physical world G-Dly.

It is called the month of Aviv, spring. Spring is the time that trees bud new growth. This teaches us that we cannot be comfortable with our past accomplishments, we must be constantly growing, adding in Torah, service, and good deeds.

It is also the month of Geula, redemption. This teaches us that we are a truly free people. We must never feel that we need to be like "them". We have our way, the Jewish way, which is by far superior, and by far more humane.

This is why it is told to us by the first mitzva, because first you need to know who you are. You are imbude with these traits, specifically to do these mitzvas.

This is who we are, this is what we are, it is OK to be proud of who you are.

This D'var Torah is in honor of my Brother in law Meir Ashkenazi. Happy Birthday!! May HaShem give you a truly blessed year.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

More Pain More Gain

This weeks parsha, Vaeira, opens with Hashem´s response to Moshe´s outcry "why have You mistreated his people?"

Hashem sent Moshe to tell the Jewish people that He will soon redeem them and the suffering only got worse.

Hashem responds "I am Havaya. I appeared to Avrohom, Yitzchak and Yaakov as Kayl Shakkai but My name Havaya I did not make known to them.. I will keep my covenant.. I heard their groans.. Therefore say to them: I Am Havaya.. I will take you out.. Save you.. Redeem you.. Take you .. And I will bring you to the land.."

How does "I Am Havaya" answer Moshe's outcry?

Great revelation comes through great suffering. The greater the accomplishment, the greater the toil.

We are here to reveal Hashem's essence in the world. Essence is revealed only under enormous pressure, like diamonds from coal.
When we left Egypt we got a diamond, Hashem's Torah, His land, we got Him.

This is Hashem's reply to Moshe, "I'm hoaning out a deeper connection with you."

This is but the tip of the iceberg. Just like a marriage, at the beginning there is powerful connection, however, over years of struggle and hardship the couple forge a connection which is infinitely deeper. So too is true about our connection with Hashem. When we left Egypt our it was powerful, however, now that we have endured unimaginable hardship and suffering in this exile, two thousand years, imagine how incredible our connection has become. Soon, when Moshiach will come, we will experience the fruit of our labor. Hashem will reveal His essence and we will be one.