Thursday, August 27, 2015

Together We Are Strong

In this week's Parsha, Ki Seitzei, we read, "You should not see your brother's donkey or his ox falling on the way and pretend as if you don't see them, you should pick up (the load) with him."

The simple meaning here is to help someone in need.

On a deeper level, it is about seeing someone who has fallen spiritually.

What lessons can we take from here for helping pick up someone who has fallen spiritually?

Many view those less observant than them negatively, ignore them or even worse, tell them off and denigrate them.

This is a terrible mistake and not the Torah way.

The first thing is to realize that he is your "brother", not an enemy. Treat him with love and brotherhood.

The next thing is to realize that it is his animal that has fallen not him. His neshama is pristine, he is essentially holy and wants to be Hashem's. It is only his "animal", his "physical" situation, nature and upbringing that put him where he is today.

Then the Torah tells us not to pretend that you don't see him. Ignoring him is a form of hate towards a fellow Jew, which not only is an essential violation of the Torah but you will cause him to fall even further.

Finally help pick up his load with him. Showing him love, you will lift his spirit strengthen him. Then he will start to pick himself up, you will only need to help.

Now in the month of Elul we must increase our love towards each other. Overcome and destroy the walls that divide us. Embrace your brother, sister or friend that you are  at odds with. Let us enter the new year united. Hashem loves most when we are together. "Together" our prayers are powerful. "Together" Hashem will grant us a good year. "Together" He will grant our greatest wish, He will send Moshiach and put an end to this painful, bitter exile.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

You are Royalty

In this week's Parsha, Shoftim, we read about the Mitzvah of appointing a king.

One of the laws a king must follow is that he have two copies of the Torah scroll made for him. One to be placed in his treasury, and the other should accompany him constantly "and he shall read it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear Hashem his G-d, to keep all the words of this Torah..."

Isn't one Torah enough, why did a king need two? What point is there in having one Torah kept in his treasury?

To be a king means to wield great power. Whereas every Jew is obligated to write a Torah, a king must write two. This act is an extra measure and different from other laws pertaining to kings, as it doesn't make sense. The king goes through this experience mearly for its humbling effect. This Torah is put in his treasury or lit. Beis gnazav, his hidden place, a place the king goes to when important decisions need to made. Going to war, taxes, major projects, etc. Seeing his Torah there (and possibly the Torahs of the kings before him) is a strong reminder, that while the great power to make these decisions are in his hands, he should be humbled and bend to Hashem's will when making them.

We are all consider kings and queens, as Hashem empowers us to make decisions that effect our "kingdoms" big or small. Yourself, your family, your wealth, your treatment of others, etc. You May be learning from the outside Torah, yet you must write it in the deepest recesses of your being. So that when making important decisions you will bend to Hashem's will.

Royalty fails in arrogance and succeeds in humility. A Jew is royalty, in dress, in speech, in thoughts and action.

Now in month of Elul, the King of kings, is open to all of us. Get close to Hashem now, go out to greet Him. He, in turn, will grant you a happy and sweet New Year.

Dedicate in memory of Chaya Spalter, a true Bas Melech, who's Bas Mitzvah would have been this week. In honor of the Torah dedication for Chaya, being celebrated this Sunday.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Related and Chosen

In this week's Parsha, Re'eh, we read "You are children to Hashem your G-D". We also read "... Hashem has chosen you to be for Him a treasured people".

Which one is it, are we Hashem's children or has He chosen us? What can we learn from this for our personal relationships?  
Does one choose their relatives? 

Hashem is telling us that there is two ways he relates to us.

First as His children. Just as a parent is one with his child and nothing can change that, so too Hashem's bond with us can never be severed, we are His children.

Second He chooses us. He wants us and chooses us every day to be His Treasure.

Not only are we intrinsically one because of our essential bond but Hashem continues to treasure each and every one of us because He chooses to.

It is possible to be in a relationship and take for granted the fact that you are essentially one, thinking that this is enough.

Your children and your spouse ache for you to choose them every day. When you don't, they feel hurt, taken for granted and used. It is because of the intrinsic bond that they yearn for your love.

Don't just be your child's father, be a father to your child. Same for mothers, same for spouses. Show them that you choose them, that you treasure them.

Don't be difficult, don't be stubborn, don't make requirements for your love. Choose to give them your love because they are your treasures.

Diagnosed with ALS, unable to move, I am blessed with plenty time to think. When considering what is most important to me, the conclusion is always the same. The most important thing is that my wife and children feel loved and cherished by me, and I try my best to show them that I do.  Life is so short, make sure your family knows how much you cherish them and that you choose them over and over again. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hashem in your Home

In this weeks parsha, Eikev, we read "And now Israel, what is Hashem your G-d asking of you? Only to revere Him, to walk in His ways, to love Him..."

What is Hashem asking of us? How does one revere and love Hashem?

When Hashem created this world, He made his presence hidden. You could know that He is there but you can't see Him. This enables freedom of choice, because if Hashem was visible we would be ashamed to commit a sin. His presence would be so imposing, you would not have a choice.

Being that Hashem can't be seen, it is possible to forget for moments, that He is there.

Hashem wants you to make Him a real part of your life. To develop such a close relationship with Him that His presence feels as if you could see Him.

This takes a strong commitment, getting to know Hashem through the study of his Torah, and getting closer to him through davening. Use words like "Baruch Hashem" blessed is Hashem, "B'ezras Hashem" with Hashem's help, "Im yirtzeh Hashem" if Hashem wants. When making important decisions, ask: What does Hashem want?

When Hashem is felt in your home, you can't help but follow in His ways. Your choice to make Hashem's presence important in your home is true reverence. The more you develop your relationship with Hashem, the the more your life becomes an expression of your love for him.

Baruch Hashem I am blessed with many visitors, people of all levels of Jewish observance. The one thing that is clear is that all believe deeply in Hashem. We all believe. Yet Hashem wants even more, He wants us to feel Him in our day to day lives.

I bless you that when you welcome Shabbos into your home, you truly feel Hashem's presence, and that presence permeates your entire being. Good Shabbos.