Friday, August 18, 2017

Chosen And Sanctified

In this week's parsha, Re'ay, we have verses that speak about the place where the Temple would be built. Speaking about the different offerings which are offered to Hashem it says, "Rather, to the place that Hashem your G-d will choose..."  "And it will be, that the place, that Hashem your G-d will choose to rest His Name..." "But only in the place that Hashem will choose..." What these verses are telling us, is that once Hashem will choose the final resting place of His Name, offerings to Him will only be able to be brought there and nowhere else.

What did they do before Hashem chose the place to rest His Name? Our sages said, "As long as Yerushalayim wasn't chosen, all of the land of Israel was allowed to have altars... As long as the eternal home wasn't chosen, Yerushalayim was able to have the Divine Presence..." This means that before Hashem chose the place for the Temple, anyone could have an altar in his back yard and bring offerings to Hashem whenever he wanted to.

The Rambam tells us that it was well known, that on the place that the Temple was built Avraham, Noach, Kayin and Hevel, and even Adam brought sacrifices. And Adam was created from the earth of the Temple. Then the Rambam adds, that "our sages said, 'Adam was created from the place where he atoned.'" From the Rambam it seems that this was already a holy place before Hashem chose it.

The question is, was this place always holy, or did it become holy when Hashem chose it?

Another question. From our verses that say, "the place that Hashem your G-d will choose," it is clear, that only after Hashem chooses the place, will it become holy. So why does the Rambam tell us the history of the place, that Avraham, Noach, etc. Brought sacrifices there?

To understand this, we first need to understand the difference between when Hashem chooses a place, making it holy, and when people sanctify a place or an object and make it holy.

When we sanctify a place or an object, the holiness is permanent, however, because the place or the object is limited, the holiness is limited to the limitations of the place or the object.

When Hashem chooses a place, the holiness is not limited to the limitations of the place, rather to the One Who is choosing, Hashem, therefore it is unlimited. However the place itself does not become permanently holy without us making it holy. When Hashem moves on, the place doesn't retain the holiness.

Hashem chose other places before the Temple Mount. For example, the Mishkan in Shiloh, that stood for 369 years, and the Mishkan that Moshe erected at Mount Sinai, and later it was erected wherever the cloud that led the Jewish people would stop. These places were all chosen by Hashem, yet when the Divine Presence moved on, they didn't retain their holiness. Why not?

It is only when we have the combination of both, Hashem's choice and our effort to sanctify the place that it becomes the eternal resting place of His Name, the Temple Mount, Mount Moriah in Yerushalayim.

This is why the Rambam tells us that Avraham, Noach, etc. Brought sacrifices. To explain why the Temple Mount became the final and eternal resting place of His Name. It wasn't enough that Hashem chose the place, we also needed Avraham, Noach, etc. To sanctify the place, and the combination of the two made it eternally holy.

What moved Avraham, Noach, Kayin, Hevel, and Adam to bring their sacrifices on Mount Moriah? It was because they knew through prophecy, that in the future Hashem would choose this as the final resting place of His Name. So ultimately it was Hashem's choice in the future that made it the resting place of His Name.

We are left with a question. The Rambam says that Adam was created from the earth of the Temple Mount. If this is the case, it would seem that Hashem already chose this place even before he created Adam. So why does He say, "the place that Hashem your G-d will choose," which means that it will be in the future?

To answer this question, the Rambam quotes the words of our sages, that "Adam was created from the place where he atoned." In other words, the reason Hashem created Adam from the earth of the Temple Mount, was because He knew that in the future, Adam would bring sacrifices there, it was Adam's choice not Hashem's.

Each of us was chosen by Hashem, each of us are a small Temple. Hashem rests His Name on us in the form of a Neshama. But it is up to us to put in the effort to experience what we have. It is the combination of both Hashem's choice and our effort, through Torah study and the performance of mitzvahs, that we experience the eternal holiness of Hashem.

May our efforts in Torah study and the performance of mitzvahs, bring Moshiach, when we will once again experience Hashem's unlimited holiness, in the eternal resting place of His Name, the Third and final Temple, in Yerushalayim, on the Temple Mount, Mount Moriah. The time has come.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Going Beyond The Natural

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In this week's parsha, Eikev, we have the second paragraph of the shema. In it, Hashem says, "And I will give your land's rain in its time." Rashi explains the words, "And I will give your land's rain," that Hashem is saying to the Jewish people, "You did what was upon you, I will also do what is upon Me." In other words, because we do what Hashem wants, he will do his part, by giving us the rain we need.

Rashi comes to explain difficulties in the simple meaning of the Torah. What is the difficulty in this verse that Rashi is clarifying?

In a previous parsha, Bechukosai, Hashem says, "And I will give their rain, in their time." The question on our verse is, what is the difference between the blessing of rain in Bechukosai and in our parsha? Rashi explains that over here it means, "You did what was upon you, I will also do what is upon Me." In other words, you did just what was asked of you, so I will keep my end of the bargain, and send the natural rain that you need. However in Bechukosai, the blessing is beyond the natural, as we see in the continuation of the blessing, "And the tree of the field will give its fruit," Rashi explains that it is talking about plain trees that don't normally give fruit, in the future they too will give fruit, which is not natural, rather above the natural.

Why is the blessing in Bechukosai greater? Because as Rashi explains on the words, "Im Bechukosai tailaichu, if you will go in my statues," means, that you should toil in Torah. Toil means going beyond your norm, putting in effort that is beyond your nature, so the blessing Hashem gives is also beyond nature.

How does Rashi know that in our parsha the blessing is within nature and not above nature? Because the verse says, "And I will give your land's rain," the rain is the land's, land is within nature. In Bechukosai it says, "And I will give their rain," meaning, the Jewish people's rain, and Jewish people are above nature, so the rain is also above nature.

How does this blessing of rain manifest itself? In our parsha Rashi explains the word "B'ito, in its time," at night, so you won't be bothered. In other words, you won't be bothered by the rain during the day when you are working in the field, but the rain will be the natural amount necessary for the fields to produce its crop. In Bechukosai Rashi explains the word "B'itam, in their time," at the time that it is uncommon for people to go out like Shabbos night (Friday night). Meaning that it will rain one night a week, and with that small amount of rain the fields will yield their full potential, which is beyond the natural.

So the blessing in Bechukosai is greater, because our effort is greater.

We need to strive for the greater blessing, it is not enough for us to get by with what comes natural to us. Hashem expects more from us, to go beyond our nature, to toil in Torah and mitzvahs, to go the extra mile.

In a way, doing just enough, just what is in our nature, is not an accomplishment, it is when we go beyond our nature, that we've accomplished. Hashem wants us to go beyond our nature, and when we do that, He showers us with blessings beyond the natural.

Every day I see this as my wife Dina goes beyond herself for our family and to give to others. I used to do a lot for our family, but now stuck in bed, it has all fallen on her shoulders. It is a daily struggle for her, but she finds a way to do it, through tears and love she supernaturally does it all. I am amazed by her everyday, she is a Jewish mother, a miracle, and my hero.

On top of that, she goes all over giving talks, strengthening people, lifting their spirits, and filling them with emuna and bitachon (belief and trust in Hashem). But what many don't know, is that she has terrible stage fright, but she fights through it, because she knows that this is what Hashem wants from her. I find that amazing and I am in awe of her.

We all have it in us to go beyond ourselves to do what Hashem wants, He created us to do just that, and when we do, we are doing what we are meant to do, and that brings supernatural blessing.

May our efforts and toil, going beyond the natural bring the greatest blessing of all, the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Marriage Tips For Men Part 4: Making A Home

Being a husband I have made my share of mistakes. Here are some of the things I learned along the way. When I got it right, I saw how it made such a big difference. Of course I am human and didn't get everything right.

Your marriage is so precious, and your family is your life. Balancing a home, work and family is hard, especially that in so many families both parents are working. Yet when mom comes home, it is common that all the traditional tasks of motherhood is on her shoulders. Even those that are able to be a stay at home mother, are in an endless state of keeping up, especially if there are small children.

As you and your wife build a home together and as you grow as a family, you need to plan and set things in place, so that both you and your wife are happy, close, and loving. Think of yourselves as one unit, and as equally responsible parties in the home. Be realistic and divide the responsibilities according to your abilities, your energy and your time.

If your wife is the high energy, creative, pintrest, on top of it, organized type, then just go with it, do what she says and count your blessings.

This article is written to husbands who have a growing family and a wife with average or low energy, who is trying her best. But there are also lessons here for all couples, just use what applies to you.

Here are some things I did, and a few things I wish I did.


Make Things Easier For Your Wife


Being a wife, a mother and a homemaker is a huge job, anything you can do to relieve your wife from these burdens will be appreciated, and if you do them with joy, she will love you for it.

1) If You Can, Hire Help.

Hiring help for housekeeping and for taking care of the children, is a good idea. If you can afford to have it all the time, then you should. If your budget doesn't allow you to have it all the time, then have it as much as you can, and at least for the hardest tasks, even once a week, it will make such a big difference.

If you want to know what the hardest tasks are, it is the things that your wife dreads doing, if you ask her, she will gladly tell you.

2) Be a Mentch.

When you are home, be involved, don't sit on your bottom while she slaves away. Ask her what you can do, remember that it is your home too.

When you are taking care of the children don't call it babysitting, they are your children and your responsibility. When you are with them, you are being a father, not a baby sitter. When you call it babysitting, you are saying that they are not your responsibility and that you are doing a favor. This is hurtful to your wife, because she wants you to be a father to them. When you are a good father to your children, it is so endearing to your wife, she will fall deeper in love with you every time she sees it.

When she does things for you, don't take her for granted, say thank you, let her know that you appreciate the things she does for you and that you respect her. This might seem small to you, but when she feels appreciated and respected, it will lift her spirits, she will be happy and she won't feel used.

3) Have Things That You Do Around the House and Be Reliable.

Pick a few regular chores and make them your responsibility. It could be cleaning, food preparation, laundry, shopping, taking care of the cars, etc. It is your choice, but pick a few and do them well and reliably. The best things to choose, are the things she likes to do the least.

4) Have Things That You Do in Preparation for Shabbos and Yom Tov.

It is a long standing tradition, that husbands set up the candles for their wife and daughters to light. This is the way that it is done. Before shabbos, set them into the candelabra or candlesticks, light them for a few seconds and put them out. This will make them easier to light when it comes time for her to light them. Before Yom Tov do this as well, but on Yom Tov you will be in shul when it is time to set them, so she will do it. But if you do set them up on Yom Tov, don't light them, because you are not allowed to put them out.

Have a dish or two that you make for Shabbos and don't leave a mess for your wife to clean up. If you can't do that, have some other preparation that you do, it can even be done on Thursday.

If you can't help prepare, then help clean up after the Shabbos meal, especially Friday night. She has been on her feet all day preparing for Shabbos and she is probably exhausted.

(I am a big advocate of using disposable dishes, especially when the children are young, it makes clean up a breeze. Unless you have hired help, keep the fancy dishes for special occasions.)

5) Give Her Time to Put Her Feet Up.

Most mothers work hard and hardly ever get a break. If you could give her a respite from the kids she will be grateful and you will be a good husband. Being that you will be with the kids you will be a good father as well.

Here are some things you can do to give her rest.

  • Learn how to make one or two simple dinners, like sloppy Joe or something else the kids like. Once a week, or every other week, make dinner with the kids, while your wife rests. Make sure to clean up after. Your wife will appreciate it, and your kids will enjoy spending time with you.
  • When you have off of work, take the kids out to the park, or do some other activity they enjoy. This will give your wife some quiet time.

6) Give her time to get together with her friends.

At minimum once a month watch the kids so she can get together with her friends. Once a week is better. She needs time with her friends. If you can't be home, the baby sitter can watch the kids.


Be Loving


Here are some things you should do just to be loving.

1) Do small sweet things.

After a long day do something sweet to make her feel special.

Here are some ideas.

  • Make her favorite tea, the way she likes it, and bring it to her in a pretty cup.
  • Cut up a fruit she likes and bring it to her.
  • Bring her a piece of chocolate.
  • Bring her some warm water to soak her feet in.

With a little bit of thought, you will come up with some of your own ideas. Small sweet things that will make her feel special.

2) Be Supportive of Her Interests.

If your wife has a hobby she likes or she would like to try, be supportive. Here are some ways to do this.

  • Buy her a book or a magazine on the subject.
  • If you come across an article on the subject, bring it to her or email it to her.
  • If she asks you to join her, don't be difficult, go along with her. You might find that you enjoy it, and even if you don't, at least you tried, and that will make her happy.
  • Offer to get her classes or supplies.
You have to realize that your wife is multifaceted, you have to love and respect all her different qualities. Including her interests, her creativity and her wishes.


3) Do Things Just Because She Wants You To.

The home is the place your wife makes her own, she should have the last word in designing and decorating it. Unless something is offensive to you, you should not argue with her choices. If she wants things a certain way, have it that way.

If something is important to her, like putting your dirty laundry in the hamper, hanging up your wet towel, putting down the toilet seat after your done, etc. Do it and train your kids to do the same. These are small things, and the decent thing to do.

You will find, that it is the small thoughtful things you do, that will make her feel special, appreciated and loved.


These are just a few things that will make your wife happy and your relationship better. I hope that you will put them to the test.


The things to remember that is the basis of this article is to:
  • Make things easier for your wife.  
  • Respect your wife.
  • Show her appreciation.
  • Be loving.

Marriage Tips for Men Part I
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 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tu B'Av And Nachamu Everlasting

The way our calendar is set up, parshas Vaeschanan is always Shabbos Nachamu, when we read the first Haftora of consoling, Nachamu Nachamu Ami, console console My nation. It is also the Shabbos right before or after Tu B'Av, and sometimes it falls on this Shabbos itself. Tu B'Av is the 15th of Av, of which the Mishnah tells us, "There weren't holidays for Israel, like the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur." In other words, the holidays of Tu B'Av and Yom Kippur are ranked as the greatest holidays we have.

What is the connection between parshas Vaeschanan, Nachamu Nachamu and Tu B'Av? Why is Tu B'Av so great?

From the words of the Mishnah, it seems that Tu B'Av is even greater than Pesach, Shavuoth and Sukkos. Why is Tu B'Av so great?

The Pri Eitz Chaim, which is a work on Kabballa, says that it is because at that time the moon is full. But aren't Pesach and Sukkos also on the 15th of the month, when the moon is full? So what makes Tu B'Av greater than Pesach and Sukkos?

The answer that is given to this question, is that because Tu B'Av comes in contrast to Tisha B'Av and the Three Weeks, the saddest time on the Jewish calendar when our Temples were destroyed and we were thrown into exile, therefore it is the greatest holiday.

You may ask, doesn't Pesach also come in contrast to the exile in Egypt? What makes Tu B'Av greater than Pesach?

The exile in Egypt was before we received the Torah. When we received the Torah, we became a "Kingdom of Kohanim and a holy nation." When we went into exile after the destruction of the Temple, it was the exile of a Kingdom of Kohanim and a holy nation, which is a more painful exile than the Egyptian exile, in which we were just a nation.

Tu B'Av represents the opposite of Tisha B'Av. Tisha B'Av we went into exile because of our sins. As we read in the Yom Tov Mussaf prayer, "Because of our sins we were exiled from our land." Tu B'Av, on the other hand, is a time of forgiveness of sin, that's why the Mishnah mentions it together with Yom Kippur, which is also a time of forgiveness of sin. Tu B'Av represents what is accomplished through our descent into exile, the coming of Moshiach and everlasting life. For the greater the descent, the greater is the ascent that follows. It is our efforts in this dark and bitter exile, that accomplishes the coming of Moshiach, which is everlasting, and the building of the Third Temple, that will be everlasting.

The Mishnah continues to say, that on Yom Kippur and on Tu B'Av, the daughters of Jerusalem (or Israel) would go out to the vineyards and dance. What moved them to dance specifically on those two days? The daughters of Israel sensed Hashem's joy, forgiving us, that filled them with joy, and so they danced.

Vaeschanan means and I prayed. Moshe prayed that he should lead the Jewish people into the land of Israel. The reason that he wanted to lead them into the land, was because everything that Moshe did was everlasting. He knew that if he would lead the Jewish people into Israel and build the Temple, it would be everlasting and no exile would follow. In other words, Moshiach would come.

When it says Nachamu Nachamu, it is referring to us being consoled when Moshiach comes. The double expression of Nachamu, doesn't mean just two, rather it means multiple, everlasting, that we will be consoled forever.

Now we see how Vaeschanan, Nachamu and Tu B'Av are connected. They are about the coming of Moshiach and everlasting life. Now that we have descended to the lowest possible place in the exile, and accomplished our mission, it is time for Moshiach to come and lead us to the greatest and everlasting ascent. May it happen soon, the time has come.