Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Solidification Of Our Dynasty

The Haftora for parshas Chayei Sarah, is the beginning of first chapter of the book of Melachim Alef (Kings I). Where it tells us, that "King David became old, he came with his days." Just like our parsha tells us, that "Avraham became old, he came with his days." This is the first connection between the Haftora and the parsha. "He came with his days," means, that all his days were full and accounted for.

How does the rest of the Haftora connect with the parsha?

The Haftora tells us, that when David was at an advanced age, his eldest living, extremely handsome and spoiled son, Adoniyahu, sought to claim David's throne, knowing that his younger brother Shlomo was meant to be king after David.

With the guidance of the prophet Noson, Shlomo's mother Bas Sheva, went to David and let him know what was happening. David reassured her, reiterating the promise he made earlier, that her son Shlomo would reign after him. She bowed and prostrated before the king and said, "May my master King David live forever!"

Here we find another similarity between the Haftora and the parsha. In the parsha Avraham makes his younger son Yitzchak his sole heir, just as King David made Shlomo, his younger son, the heir to his throne.

However, our parsha continues to tell us of how Avraham gave Yitzchak everything making him his heir in his lifetime. It also tells us what happened after Avraham died, that Hashem blessed Yitzchak, just as He blessed Avraham.

On the other hand, the prevailing custom is to end the Haftora after King David's promise to Bas Sheva, while the continuing verses tell us how he had Shlomo anointed as king during his lifetime. It also tells us what happened after David died, that Shlomo sat on the throne.

It would make sense to continue reading on, being that the events parallel the events of the parsha so closely. Why don't we continue?

The law is, that the royal Davidic dynasty is everlasting and must go from David and through Shlomo. Moshiach will be heir to the throne of King David, specifically through Shlomo. So until Shlomo became king the Davidic dynasty was not solidified.

The heirs to Shlomo's throne were intrinsically royal and did not need to be anointed. Sometimes they would be anointed just to clarify who was king, when there was a dispute and to demonstrate that he alone was king.

The Jewish dynasty started with Avraham, but must go through Yitzchak and his son Yaakov. Everyone who comes from Avraham, through Yitzchak and Yaakov is intrinsically Jewish.

Since the Jewish dynasty would not be solidified until Yaakov comes into the picture, which happens in the next parsha, the Haftora stops before the Davidic dynasty is solidified.

Now we have another reason we read this Haftora. The establishment of the Davidic dynasty is the final solidification of the Jewish nation. Before the Jewish people had a king, they were not unified. It was the appointment of David that unified the Jewish people under one everlasting rulership. So our Haftora is the completion of the events of the parsha.

May the events that began in our parsha and continued in the Haftora, come to the ultimate completion. When our Davidic king, Moshiach, once again ascends the throne. May it happen soon.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Avraham's Children Taking A Stand - RUN4YITZI

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In parshas Vayeira, Hashem tells Avraham, that he is going to destroy Sodom and Amora. Then it says, "... And Avraham was still standing before Hashem. And Avraham came forward and said, 'Would You blot out the righteous along with the wicked?!'"

If Avraham was still standing before Hashem, what does it mean, that he came forward?

Rashi explains that he didn't come forward in a physical sense, but rather, he prepared himself emotionally, to defend Sodom and Amora from annihilation. To plead the case before Hashem in three ways. To argue sternly with Him, to appease Him and to pray to Him.

We see that he did all three, first speaking sternly, he said "Would you blot out the righteous along with the wicked?!" In appeasement he said, "It would be sacrilegious for You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the righteous along with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are alike, that would be sacrilegious of you! Shall the Judge of the whole world not judge Fairly?!" Then in prayer he said, "Behold I have begun to speak to my Lord, and I am dust and ashes."

We are taught about Avraham, that he manifested the attribute of kindness and love. In last week's Haftora, Hashem even called him, "Avraham who loved Me." So it seems strange and out of character that Avraham opens his argument with stern words. "Would you blot out the righteous along with the wicked?!" Why doesn't he begin with words of appeasement or prayer, and if that doesn't work, try stern words? That would be more in character with the Avraham we know.

When it speaks of Avraham's kindness and love, it is referring to the way he served Hashem, in line with his nature. However, here lives were on the line, and the angel tasked with destroying Sodom and Amora, were already on the way there. Avraham went against his nature and spoke sternly first, not making diplomatic calculations, because lives were in the balance.

The stories of our forefathers are a lesson to us, his children. Even more, just as we inherit from Avraham, the kindness and the love that he had, we must be ready to take action when it is called for, just as he did.

The lesson here, is that when the well being of another is on the line, whether it is his spiritual, or physical well being. It is not a time for calculations, it is a time for action, throwing yourself into the task with strong and effective action, even if it means going against your nature. To save a life, we go the extra mile.

I learned this lesson when we realized that what I had was ALS. A group of five rabbis, of whom, most didn't really know me, took on the task of making sure my family was taken care of, and that I got the medical care I needed, and they are still there for us. And together with them, there are so many who have helped, financially, emotionally, showering us with love, bringing meals, etc. etc.

To see the children of Avraham in action is amazing and we are so grateful, you truly saved our lives.

May the merits of the kindness and love all of the Jewish people give be the mitzvah that tips the scale and sets in motion the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.

Dear friends,

This year, the RUN4YITZI campaign is trying to raise $50,000. The RUN4YITZI team has grown to almost 20, and will be running the Miami Half Marathon. My wife Dina will be running as well. Please help us reach our goal by donating what you can and by sharing the link on the website to Facebook. Give To RUN4YITZI

Thank you for your love,


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ode To Jewish Mothers

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The Haftora for parshas Vayeira tells us of two stories of miracles, from our prophet Elisha.

The obvious connection to our parsha is that in our parsha, Sarah, who was in her nineties was blessed to have a son and gave birth to Yitzchak. In the Haftora, the Shunamis (Shunamite woman), who was also at an advanced age, was blessed to have a son and gave birth to a son.

However, reading the Haftora, it is clear, that most of it has nothing to do with the blessing and birth of the boy. How does the rest of the Haftora connect to the parsha? What deeper lessons are found in these stories.

The first story in the Haftora, tells of one woman, the widow of a prophet, who cried out to Elisha. According to tradition the prophet was Ovadia (Obadiah), who saved a hundred prophets from king Achav and his evil wife Ezevel (Ahab and Jezebel) by hiding them in caves and borrowing money to sustain them. Now the creditor was coming for the money, and being that she didn't have it, he wanted to take her two sons as slaves. What was she to do?

Elisha ask her, "Tell me, what do you have in the house?" She responded, "there is nothing... But a jug of oil." He told her to borrow vessels from all of her neighbors, "empty vessels, not a few." Then she should close the door, start pouring the oil and fill all the vessels. And so she did.

Even though there was little oil in the jug, it continued pouring until the last vessel was full, and when there were no more, it stopped.

She then went to Elisha and told him what happened. He told her to sell the oil and pay the debt, and "you and your two sons will live off the rest."

A beautiful and well deserved miracle.

Please allow me to take you to a deeper place.

There is a teaching from the Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of Chabad), that this story is a metaphor for someone who feels empty and apathetic towards Judaism, and wants that to change.

The "one woman" in the story, is the neshama, which is always one with Hashem. " The wife of a prophet" who received G-d's word and was filled with meaning. "Cried" with bitterness to "Elisha,"  symbolizing Hashem (if you divide the name Elisha, you get Eli, which means my G-d, and sha, which means turn or pay attention). "My husband (in Hebrew ishi) died!" Ishi can be divided into aish, which means fire, and the letter yud, which symbolizes Hashem, meaning, that she doesn't feel the G-dly fire burning inside, she feels that her Judaism is hollow and void of meaning. "The creditor," is the animal soul, which yearns for physical pleasure and makes us forget about Hashem. He "is coming to take my two sons," the animal soul wants to take our love and fear of Hashem and use them for selfish desires and pleasures.

What is one to do in this situation, when he feels so distant from Hashem?

To this Elisha asked, "Tell me, what do you have in the house?" Is there anything left of your connection with Hashem?" She responded " There is nothing... but a jug of oil," oil symbolizes the essence of a Jew, the Pintaleh Yid, that cannot be affected, and is always one with Hashem. He said, "Go borrow vessels... Empty vessels," Torah and mitzvas are vessels for G-dliness, but now they are empty, lacking meaning, love and fear of Hashem. "Not a few," meaning, do a lot of Torah and mitzvas, even though they seem empty, because they are vessels for G-dliness. "Pour on them oil," tap into your essence and allow it to flow and fill all of your vessels.

How does one tap into his essence?

When you have a log that won't catch fire, you break it into pieces, then it catches on fire. Same is with us, when we don't feel it, we need to break ourselves. How? When you ponder on your empty state, being so distant from Hashem, you will become bitter and broken. This is when the "oil," your essence, will begin to pour and fill all of the empty vessels you created.

After you pay the creditor, "you and your children will live with the extra." Meaning, not only will you regain the connection you lost, but you will have extra. When you break the dark state that your were in, you bring out a light that is beyond anything that you experienced before. This is the great light that comes out of the darkness.

The Haftora now tells us a second story. Once when Elisha was in Shuneim, a prominent woman, the Shunamis, insisted that he eat at her home. From then on, whenever he passed through Shuneim, he would eat by her home. According to Rashi, she was the sister of Avishag The Shunamis, who kept King David warm in his old age.

Realizing how holy he was, she asked her husband to build a loft, with a chair, a table, a bed and a candelabra for his use.

When Elisha saw all the trouble she went through for him he wanted to reciprocate in some way. She didn't have children, so he blessed her to have a baby, and a year later she gave birth to a son.

The boy grew up. One day his head started hurting, and he later died in his mother's lap. She brought him up to the loft laid him on Elisha's bed and locked the door.

She traveled quickly to Elisha, and he came back to Shuneim, to the loft, and saw that the boy was dead. The Haftora then tells us the miracle, how he brought the boy back to life. According to our tradition, the boy was our prophet Chavakuk.

Most of the Haftora tells about these two mothers and the lengths they went to secure the welfare of their children. This is what I think is the connection between the rest of the Haftora and the parsha. In the parsha we read how Sarah sent away Yishmael, so that he wouldn't be a bad influence on her son Yitzchak. And being that our great sages chose to include these parts about mothers who cared for their children, which is most of the Haftora, means that they felt that this was an important theme of the parsha, if not the most important.

This is an ode to Jewish mothers, who give so much, and are strong for their children. That our parsha speaks of the Akeida, the binding of Yitzchak on the altar, yet the Haftora doesn't even hint to this monumental event. Instead, it speaks of the love and care of Jewish mothers to their children.

May Hashem show us the same love, send Moshiach and save us from the clutches of this dark exile. The time has come.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Turning Pain Into Purpose

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In this week's parsha, Lech Lecha, we read that Hashem commanded Avraham, that he and all his male descendants, have a Bris (circumcision). And so, at the age of ninety nine he circumcised himself, thereby entering into a covenant with Hashem.

This is so significant, that even today, when someone has a Bris, the blessing we say is "to enter him into the covenant of Avraham our father."

The Rambam (Maimonides) tells us, that when we do a Bris today, it is not done because of the command to Avraham, rather we do it because of the command Hashem gave to Moshe at Sinai. The same is true regarding all mitzvahs that our ancestors kept before the giving of the Torah. Though they did these mitzvahs, we are not required to do them because they did, but rather, because Hashem commanded us to at Mount Sinai. If this is the case, why do we say, "to enter him into the covenant of Avraham our father," wouldn't it make more sense to say, "to enter him into the covenant with Hashem?"

Another question. Mitzvahs are meant to be done with joy, as it says, "Serve Hashem with joy." Yet here we are required to do something that causes pain, which is the opposite of joy. Even more, pain is part of the mitzvah, and because of that, we don't use anesthetics, or anything else to numb the pain. Why are we required to do a mitzvah that causes pain? And why is pain part of the mitzvah? 

The Shulchan Aruch Harav (The Code of Law from Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of Chabad) tells us, that the Neshama enters the body at the Bris. However, we are taught, that while still in the womb, an angel teaches the baby Torah, which would mean that the Neshama is already present in the womb. So what does he mean by saying, that it enters at the Bris?

There is a difference between the Neshama being present and it entering the body. When a boy is born, the Neshama is already present, however it is not fused with the physical body. The act of the Bris on the physical body, fuses the physical and the spiritual, the new Neshama with the body.

This is also the purpose of every Jew, to make this world into a dwelling place for Hashem's presence, by fusing physical existence with holiness. We do this by using physical objects and places, in their natural state, for mitzvahs or to serve Hashem. When it comes to the body, we do a Bris to do this fusion, and since we want the effect to be complete, we do it in the most natural way, hence the necessity of pain. While in normal circumstances, we may not put ourselves into a situation that will cause our bodies pain, here, in order to fulfill Hashem's commandment properly, we find joy in doing His mitzvah even with the pain.

By a girl, the fusion happens at the naming. This is why we try to name a girl by the Torah at the first possible opportunity.

The question is asked: Why do we make such a big deal about Avraham's sacrifice at the Akeida, the binding of his son Yitzchak on to the altar, when throughout our history, many have sacrificed themselves in a similar fashion and perhaps greater, and what more, Avraham had a direct command from Hashem, while they did not? The answer is, that he was the first, which breaks the ice for the rest. It is hardest to be the first, but once it has already been done, it is easier for others to do.

Perhaps the same is true for the Bris, being that Avraham was the first, made it easier for those who came after him.

However you may ask: How can you compare self sacrifice, with Bris? By self sacrifice there is a mental edge which makes it a little easier, knowing that Avraham already did it. However a Bris is done to a baby, who has no idea what Avraham did or didn't do. And what more, knowing that Avraham already gave the ultimate sacrifice, gives a mental edge to another in a similar situation. But just because Avraham had a Bris first, doesn't make the physical pain of a Bris any less.

This is the reason why we say the blessing, "to enter him into the covenant of Avraham." Because just like Avraham, everyone who has a Bris, is as if he is the first.

The same is true for all the painful situations Hashem puts us in. If we can see them as a mission from Hashem, we will find meaning, purpose and maybe even joy in them.

This is one of the ideas that has kept me positive since I was diagnosed with ALS. I feel that Hashem has chosen me for a mission. And though I don't like my situation and I want to be healed, I understand that Hashem put me here for a reason. And as long as I am here, I will use my situation to do His work, in any way I can, uplifting the spirits of people through teaching, smiling and finding good in the people I meet.

May Hashem send Moshiach and put an end to our pain. The time has come.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Powerful Mouths

The Haftora for parshas Lech Lecha, extols the virtues of the Jewish people, the children of Avraham, in contrast to the other nations of the world. It encourages us to stay strong during the exile, that we should not be afraid because Hashem is always with us and He can be relied upon. Ultimately it is us, the Jewish people, who put our hope in Hashem, who will be strengthened and redeemed, while the nations will face divine judgment for not recognizing Hashem, despite all the clear indications that He is the one and only true G-d, and for all the suffering they put us through.

The connection of this Haftora to parshas Lech Lecha, is the references to Avraham, how with Hashem's help, he journeyed away from idol worshippers, taught the world about Hashem, and was victorious over powerful kings, all of which are mentioned in the parsha.

The parsha tells about the founding of the Jewish people and the beginning of our mission in this world. Therefore, it makes sense, that the Haftora encourages us and extols the virtues that make us the chosen ones for Hashem's plan. It also makes sense that it tells us about the final redemption, because that is the goal and reward of our mission.

The Haftora opens with a reassurance, that although we may feel at times, that our efforts to follow the Torah are being ignored by Hashem, that is never the case. Rather, Hashem's wisdom is beyond ours and therefore, we don't understand why He puts us in situations that seem undesirable.

In the end, He is the One who "gives the faint strength." Though the enemies of the Jewish people seem youthful and powerful, they will grow "tired and weary..., and stumble. But those who hope in Hashem will renew (lit. Exchange) their strength, grow wings like an eagle, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not tire."

Why does the verse use the word "exchange" to mean renew? It means, that when we use all our strength to serve Hashem and become weary, then our limited strength will be exchanged for Hashem's strength, which is unlimited. We will then be able to take our service to a whole new level, deepening our connection with Hashem ad infinitum.

Now the Haftora tells us how Hashem will judge the nations of the world. He will first reprove them, and let them bring forth their arguments, if they have any, in defense. But of course they have no defense for their wrong doing. Hashem will tell them that He sent them Avraham, who taught them about Him. They saw that Hashem was with him and did amazing miracles for him, and He gave him power over the mightiest kings. Yet they ignore the clear signs with cognitive dissonance, and they support each other in perpetuating lies, continuing to make and serve idols. As it says, "Each one will help his friend and to his brother he will say, be strong." all this, just to hold on to idol worship.

The Midrash explains this verse in a positive light, that it refers to Avraham and Shem, supporting each other after the war between the four kings and the five kings, spoken about in our parsha. There is a lesson here for us as well. We should always help each other, and even when we can't help, we should give words of encouragement.

In contrast to the nations of the world, "You Yisrael my servant, Yaakov whom I have chosen, children of Avraham who loved Me." Sometimes it is the children that bring out the greatness of their parents, as their conduct is a reflection of them and it is only because of the parents virtues, that the children are so wonderful. Same is with the Jewish people. Because of our forefather Avraham, we have it in us to be amazing, and our actions show how great Avraham's love for Hashem was.

The Haftora continues, that Hashem will gather us from the ends of the earth and that we should not fear because Hashem is with us.  Even more, don't be afraid, "For I Am Hashem your G-d, Who holds your right hand."

Then the Haftora says the strangest thing. "Do not fear worm Yaakov." Why are we called a worm? This worm we speak of here, is weak. Its only strength is in its mouth, with which it can destroy cedars. We too, our power is not in our bodies, our true strength is in our mouths. Through our Torah study and prayer, we can do amazing things.

This is also a lesson on the power of speech. We are told that when one speaks loshon hara, badly of another person, three are negatively affected. The one who says  it, the one that hears it, and the one being spoken about. I understand why the speaker and the hearer are affected, because they are both there when the words were spoken. However, the one being spoken of, is not there, why would it affect him? Because our mouths are powerful and when we speak badly of another, it brings out negative in that person.

The opposite is true as well. When you speak good of another, you bring out good qualities in that person, even if they weren't there before. Just imagine how much good we can do by using the power of our speech to lift others up.

Let us use our mouths for good things. Praying, learning Torah, and bringing out good in others. If we do, we will change the world for good, and we will be able to experience the last words of the Haftora, that when Moshiach comes we "will rejoice in Hashem and glory in the Holy One of Israel." May it happen soon.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Good Struggles

Dear friends,

Here is the second Dvar Torah for this week. Please enjoy.


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This week's parsha, Noach, talks about the great flood, the powerful waters that destroyed all living things on the earth.

What positive lesson can we take from the flood? Why is this read right after the holidays?

In Song of Songs, we read, "Many waters cannot extinguish the love and rivers cannot flood it."  This is talking about the love we have for Hashem, the hidden essential love deep inside every Jew, the Pintaleh Yid.

This love is compared to the fire hidden inside coal, as the previous verse says, "her coals are coals of fire of a great flame." When you look at a coal you don't see a flame, but inside the coal the fire burns strong. It is also compared to a flint, which can be submerged underwater for years, but when striked, out comes fire.

What are these "many waters," that fail to extinguish this inner fire? And what are these "rivers," that fail to flood it?

One explanation, is that many waters, refers to the worries and hardships that we incur, trying to make a living, which is simply part of this world we live in. And the rivers, are when these worries, thoughts and pressures don't let up, like the strong current of a river.

Though these worries and hardships are constant, nevertheless, they can't extinguish the hidden love found in the depths of our souls. Why not?

To understand this, we must take a deeper look at ourselves and the reason we are in this world of constant worries.

Our souls, before they entered this physical world, were in a pristine holy state. What gain is there for the soul to come down here and be involved in this lowly, troublesome place? We must conclude that by making the descent into this world, the neshama attains higher levels of holiness and G-dly revelation, upon its return to its Heavenly abode. It is a descent for a greater ascent.

This is similar to taking a short term loss for a long term gain. Many understand the value of living with discomfort for a while, as they build themselves up financially. They do it with joy, because they realize that this is the path to their goal.

The struggles we contend with, are there to help us attain the purpose of our descent into this world. And when we realize that, we start looking at our struggles differently, we begin to see them in a positive light.

Knowing this, you realize, that being that the "many waters" are here for our benefit, they could never extinguish the love we have for Hashem, because that is the opposite of their purpose.

By coming down to this world, the neshama fulfills Hashem's will, which causes a great elevation in the soul.

Prior to its descent into the world, the soul is like a Tzadik (righteous), however, by descending into this turbulent world and doing Hashem's will, it attains the status of a Baal Teshuva (returnee to Hashem). Of whom our sages say, "that in the place where Baal Teshuvas stand, complete Tzadikim are not able to stand," because through their struggle they attain a level of holiness far greater than that of a Tzadik, so great that the Tzadik isn't even able to stand there.

With this in mind, we start to take our struggles in stride. We begin to see them as the path to our goals and not as the enemy. It is the struggles that make us stronger and refine us. It is the struggles that bring us closer to Hashem. He put us here specifically to contend with this world and this world is a world of struggles. But when you understand that it is all from Hashem and it is all purposeful, it is no more a struggle. You will embrace it with joy and with a spring in your step, knowing that on the other side of this struggle is the goal you were created to achieve.

Now we can appreciate why the story of the flood is read right after the holidays. The holidays are like heaven, as we celebrate with Hashem and enjoy the holiness of the time. Now with the holidays behind us, we reenter the world of struggles. It is now that we need a reminder that the turbulent waters of making a living and dealing with the struggles of life are not there to hurt us, but rather to help us accomplish our purpose.

May our efforts to do Hashem's will be successful, may His will be realized and usher in the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Dove And The Olive Leaf

Dear friends,

This week with Hashem's help, I will be writing two Dvar Torahs. Here is the first. I will not be writing on the Haftora, because I already did, as this Haftora is the same as parshas Ki Seitzei. Click here to view


Audio Version By Rabbi Sholem Perl
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In this week's parsha, Noach, we read, that after the flood, Noach sent a dove out of the ark. It returned, "and behold, it had plucked an olive leaf with its beak," and Noach knew that the water had subsided from the earth.

Why does the verse tell us what kind of leaf it was? And why does it say that it was plucked? What about this olive leaf, told Noach, that the water had subsided from the earth, the olive tree could have been on a mountain, and the leaf could have been from the top of the tree?

Another question. Where, was this leaf taken from?

One opinion, is that it was taken from the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Chava were, before they ate from the tree of Knowledge. The problem with this explanation, is that being that it was a holy place, and the evils of the world didn't reach there. It makes sense, that it wasn't effected by the flood, and if that is the case, how would it be a sign that the water had subsided?

Another opinion is that it was taken from Israel. Now, about the Holy Land there are two opinions. Some say, that it wasn't effected by the flood, and if that is the case, like the Garden of Eden, it could not serve as a proof that the water had subsided. Others say, that the Holy Land was flooded as well. If this is the case, it could surely act as a sign to Noach that the water had subsided. However we would need to clarify, why Israel, the Holy Land, would be affected by the flood?

Yet others maintain, that the dove took it from a tree that was not far from the ark.

In either case, in order to be a sign that the water had subsided, it had to be taken from a place, that was affected by the flood.

Why an olive leaf? Rashi explains that olives are bitter and the dove was hinting, that he would rather have bitter food from the hand of Hashem, than sweet food from the hand of man. (I say he, because Rashi derives from the grammar, that the dove was in fact male.)

Even more. Olive trees are very hardy trees, and we see that Noach knew this, as Rashi tells us, that Noach took on to the ark a "(grape) vine and a fig sapling." However, he didn't take an olive plant, because he was certain, that being a very strong tree, some would survive. Therefore, it makes sense that the dove would have found an olive tree.

Why does it say that it was plucked? This means, that Noach was able to tell, that it was a fresh leaf and not one that was found floating on the water. That it was a new leaf that grew after the flood.

This was also what indicated to Noach that the water had subsided from the earth. Because even if the tree was on a mountain, the fact that it had enough time to grow new foliage, indicated that it was also long enough for the water to subside.

And finally, why would Israel, the Holy Land, be affected by the flood? The flood had a positive impact on the earth as well. First, it purified the earth from the evils of the generations that preceded the flood. Second, we must conclude, that the flood also added a new level of holiness to the earth, because, what point would there be to send the whole flood, just to have the earth revert to its prior state. We also see this from the fact that our Haftora calls the flood, the "Waters of Noach." Noach also means, it is good, meaning, that the flood had a positive side, it raised the status of the earth. This is what the Holy Land gained by having the flood, it was raised to an even higher level of holiness.

The flood is symbolic of all our troubles. Just as the floods ultimate purpose was to raise the status of the earth, so too, every difficulty in life, is really a positive in disguise. It is a necessary hardship, which is there for your benefit, to bring you to a higher place, spiritually and physically. And if you can see it this way, life will start to become easier and happier.

It is now over two years since I had the tracheostomy, and started breathing with a ventilator. I remember how scary the whole ordeal was. Especially because at that time, I lost the use of my right hand, and with that went my ability to communicate. It was this idea, that there must be positive in what I was going through, that helped me so much. Even more than that, it helped that my wife Dina and my family were there for me. Although life is still difficult and I wish and hope to be healed, I am so grateful to be alive, watch my children grow up, have nachas from them, and have wonderful times with my wife. I am also grateful for being able to make a difference in so many people's lives, through these Dvar Torahs and through friendship. While every day is a struggle for me and my family, we are able to make the best of it by realizing that there is a positive purpose to what we are going through.

Soon this flood too will end, Hashem will surely send healing, either through a cure, through miracles, or with the coming of Moshiach. Either way we will not be the same as before the struggles, we will have been elevated to a higher state, both physically and spiritually. May it happen soon.

Dedicated to Devorah Schuchat, who is battling ALS and just had a tracheostomy, and to her husband Ben and children, for their strength and love.