Thursday, September 17, 2015

With Togetherness

In this week's parsha, Vayelech, we have the Mitzvah of Hakhel. "Assemble the nation, the men the women, the children... In order that they hear and in order that they learn and fear Hashem..., and will be careful to do all the words of this Torah."

The Mitzvah of Hakhel happened during the Sukkos holiday following a Shmitah, Sabbatical, year. All the Jewish people would assemble. The king, standing on a podium built for the occasion, would read selections from the book of Devarim, including the Shema, for all to hear.

While most Mitzvahs are stated without the reason, here the Torah elaborates and lists the reasons. In order that they hear, learn, fear Hashem and keep the Torah.

What can we learn from the fact that the reasons are listed? What lesson can we take from here, for family life?

The Mitzvah of Hakhel was done at the Temple and lead by the king, both of which we don't have today. Do we see this Mitzvah as unobservable today?

While most Mitzvahs connected to the Temple are not done today, Hakhel is unique, that at least parts of it can. This is because the reasons for this Mitzvah are part of the Mitzvah. True we have no king, true we have no Temple, but the reasons, "in order that they listen, learn, fear and do," can still be implemented.

How is the Hakhel done today? Any time this year, gather your family or friends or community. The goal is to strengthen their feeling towards Hashem and the Torah.

The prerequisite is that you are "assembled," meaning all of you are in a state of togetherness, with brotherly love. "Togetherness" sets the mood and opens the heart to hear words of meaning and chizuk (strengthening), "in order that they hear..."

When I started to lose my ability to speak, it made me aware of the power of speech. I had to decide what is truly worth saying. Now, unable to speak, I dream of what I would tell them, if I could.

Words are powerful, when used correctly they can lift up a spirit, when abused, they can destroy.

Our children and spouses ache for our recognition and love. Especially during the holidays, when we spend so much time together. With so much to do, Mitzvahs, Davening, cooking, cleaning etc., they could be ignored, or worse mistreated, in our need to have things perfect.

You first need to see them as "most important." Don't be so religious that your family will suffer. Don't shove Yiddishkiet at them. Rather, bring them close with love and kindness.

They value your words and remember them. Your actions are equally, if not, more important. Create a loving atmosphere, focus your attention on them. Listen to what they have to share with you. They want you to know them, and to be proud of them.

When you have set a loving atmosphere, then you can tell them about how Hashem has chosen us to be His. Their ears and their hearts will be open to hear and to learn, to fear Hashem and to keep His Torah.

If I could talk, I would tell my kids how much I love them and how proud I am of them. How lucky we  are to be Hashem's children, and the Rebbe's soldiers.

I would tell them to be kind and to use their talents and gifts to serve Hashem and to lift others up.

I would tell them to smile a lot and be positive. There is nothing better than helping or making another Jew happy, even if it means taking a loss.

I would tell my daughters how pretty they look in their Yom Tov outfits. I would tell my boys to tuck their shirt in.

What would I tell my wife? Now, that is none of your business.

Consider making a Hakhel get together with your family and friends. Create an atmosphere of togetherness, speak to their hearts with love and kindness. Most important, make your spouse and children feel "most important."


  1. This is so beautiful and awesome

  2. I also pray your children and Dina will here you speak again. You always made me feel like your brother and not just another member of the community. We always include you our prayers and I'm always thinking of you and you're family.

    By Simcha Wasserman

    The light in this distant city,
    thousands of miles and years
    away from where the Holy
    Temples once stood, still
    illuminates the souls of those
    aware of their inherent
    G-dliness, aware they are a
    remnant of a nation on fire,
    once consumed in supernal
    love and fear.

    These souls, today, out-distance
    the spiritual giants who drew
    down and set ablaze legions of
    angels with every holy utterance,
    scorching the heavens in flames
    of divine ecstasy.

    These are the souls that will
    signal the final ingathering;
    they, who have marched across
    the ages, steadfast, believing
    victory could come at a
    moment’s notice.

    In their merit, we will enter
    the land, immortal.

    And simple faith, intangible,
    no longer blind, will shine in
    open miracles and wonders;
    and the deepest secrets of
    creation will sing out in
    elemental purity.

    And the children, all of us
    children, will dance in the
    radiance of a new song, with
    self-abandon, along the old
    streets in this distant city,
    suddenly drawn close.

  4. Thank you so much, they are very encouraging words.
    I missed seeing you when I was in the area visiting my mom a few months ago.