Saturday, February 27, 2010


"There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they're necessary to reach the places we've chosen to go."

"Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not."

Carl Jung

"Often it takes some calamity to make us live in the present. Then suddenly we wake up and see all the mistakes we have made."

"It is not our mistakes that define who we are; it is how we recover from those mistakes."

It was a REALLY bad mistake. The Jews participated in Achashveirosh's party. According to one opinion in the gemara, this is why there was a terrible decree to annihilate the Jewish people. We were punished for our mistake. But what happened at that very party? Vashti was deposed making the way for Esther to become queen. Ultimately, this brought about our salvation. So the very party that was the cause of our downfall was also the source of our salvation! What happened in between?

TESHUVAH! When we return to Hashem we can fix EVERYTHING!!

[Based on the Sfas Emes]

Love, Blessings and a FREILICHIN PURIM to all of my sweetest friends who are even sweeter on Purim!:):)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tzvi Moshe On Tetzaveh - Beautiful As Always!

This week’s Parsha contains within it an interesting anomaly; this is the only Parsha from when Moshe Rabbeinu appears on the scene in Parshas Shemos, all the way until the very end of the Torah where he is not mentioned by name. Why is his name not present here of all Parshios?
To add to the question, let’s raise a commonly discussed point: HaKadosh Baruch Hu is not mentioned in Megilas Esther. What is the significance of this? And being that this year, as is often the case, the Megilah and Parshas Tetzaveh coincide with one another, we need to see if there is a connection between this dual absence of Moshe in Tetzaveh and Hashem in the Megilah.

To explore this we will first need to see if there is a deeper connection between Tetzaveh and the Megilah. Only with such a background can we analyze the anomaly of the seeming absence of Moshe and Hashem. The topics that we will discuss are all very esoteric, but hopefully we will bring it down to a practical level.

The main focus of Tetzaveh is on the Bigdei Kehunah, the Priestly Garments; specifically those of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, Aharon HaKohen. The garments that the High Priest wore consisted of two levels: simple white undergarments worn beneath a second layer of colorful fabrics and intricate pieces of craftsmanship that ‘accessorized’ the simple, white base-layer. There was an apron of sorts (the Eiphod), a gem-studded chest-plate (the Choshen), and a golden headpiece (the Tzitz), among others, all of which were situated on top the plane series of white garments.

The Megaleh Amukos explains these two levels of Begadim, garments, in correspondence to the way that we relate to God. We know that when we see Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay (Shem Havaya) on a page, we don’t pronounce it as is, rather we relate to it with Alef-Daled-Nun-Yud, known as Shem Adnus (Baruch Atah Shem Havaya is above this world, which is why we don’t pronounce it; it belongs to a loftier plane, it emanates from total unity. This world is one with much seeming diversity, so we don’t manifest Shem Havaya in speech, rather we relate to it with a garment. Shem Adnus is that exterior garment through which we can somewhat come in contact with Shem Havaya which surpasses this world. In short, Shem Adnus is the way that we can relate to Shem Havaya in Olam HaZeh.

This parallels the two levels of the Bigdei Kehunah. The Megaleh Amukos explains that we don’t relate to the Lavnunis, the pure simplicity of the Kohen Gadol’s white undergarments because it is a reflection of Hashem in Shem Havaya. We use the accessories on top to get through, meaning that these colorful outer pieces reflect Shem Adnus, the covering through which we relate to the divine simplicity of the white undergarments (the reflection of Shem Havaya.)

The Ramchal explains that there are two ways in which HaKadosh Baruch Hu relates to us, two types of ‘behaviors.’ These are called Hanhagas HaYichud and Hanhagas HaMishpat. Hanhagas HaMishpat is the way we perceive this world, Hanhagas HaMishpat is the system of us seeing cause and effect. Hanhagas HaYichud, on the other hand, is the ghost behind the system. It takes this-worldly causality and navigates it to the ultimate purpose of revealing Hashem's total unity. Hanhagas HaMishpat is what you see in personal cases of reward-and-punishment - disconnected events, Hanhagas HaYichud is how it's a complex, interconnected system that is really bringing Moshiach.

To begin to tie the concepts together let’s try to label the ‘behaviors.’ According to what we are saying, Hanhagas HaYichud is rooted in Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay, in Shem Havaya. It is the layer of Hashem’s way of dealing with us that we don’t directly relate to. Hanhagas HaYichud is the hand beneath the glove, the part we don’t see. On the other side, Hanhagas HaMishpat is the glove on top of the hand, related to Shem Adnus, the exterior layer through which we connect to the Hanhagas HaYichud.

These two levels are present in the Megilah. When we read the story we see only natural events. We see political waves and ripples and very obvious cause and effect. The party causes Vashti’s death, and this, over time brings in Esther HaMalka and so on. On the surface we only perceive the Hanhagas HaMishpat, we see the headlines and political cause and effect. But a perceptive eye penetrates through this exterior, through this mask and senses the Hanhagas HaYichud penetrating through to the essence, the hand beneath the glove.

Perhaps with all of this in mind we can suggest the following connection. The outer accessories of the Kohen Gadol, the layer of his dress that corresponds to Adoshem, is the Hanhagas HaMishpat to the internal undergarments, the pure white layer of the Kohen Gadol that corresponds to Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay and Hanhagas HaYichud. These two layers play out in Parshas Tetzaveh in regards to the Kohen Gadol and is the same system around which Megilas Esther is constructed.

Now that we have established the Tetzaveh/Purim connection, we need to return to our original issue of why both Moshe and HaKadosh Baruch Hu are not mentioned in Tetzaveh or Megilas Esther.

We see Moshe Rabbeinu in later Parshios listing a public tally of the exact destination of every donation he received for the construction of the Mishkan and the assembly of the Bigdei Kehunah. So we know that he is not absent from Tetzaveh, quite the opposite actually. Perhaps we can re-frame our perspective on the Parsha. The first Passuk begins with Hashem saying directly to Moshe, “V’Atah Tetzaveh” And YOU, with Hashem speaking directly to Moshe, shall command. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that calling a person by their name is referring to an exterior level of the person. I call a person by name because he is far away or facing away from me. I refer to a person as ‘you’ when we are closest; when we are in face-to-face conversation. Using ‘you’ means that I am speaking to your essence.

It’s not that Moshe is not in our Parsha - V’Nahafoch Hu! - The Parsha is written from his perspective, and he is the directing the whole thing! The whole Parsha is dealing with this issue; what is the outside (Adnus, the accessories) and what is inside (Havaya, the essential undergarments)

We can say the same thing for the Megilah as well. When approaching the Megilah at a surface level all I see is the Hanhagas HaMishpat lying on top. But with a penetrating eye, and a shift in perspective I begin to realize that HaKadosh Baruch Hu is not written in because He is so obviously the puppet-master working behind the scenes!

To add another dimension: we know that Purim and Yom Kipur (Yom HaKipurim) are deeply linked, and that there are many powerful connections between them. In the climax of Yom HsKipurim, during the extensive service of the Kohen Gadol, he enters into the Kodesh HaKodashim, the Holy of Holies, the most sanctified quarters, the absolute apex of spirituality. When he does this, what happens? He removes the colorful accessories and enters in the pure white. He leaves behind the exteriors. He enters the moment of the most intense spirituality with just the essence.

The same applies for me! When I enter a day like Purim, or any moment of intense spiritual potential, I need to focus on my essence. What is my essence? Pure. White. Clean. Unfortunately it is so easy to focus on my exterior. I focus on my negative actions, what I do wrong; and I miss what I am in reality – the white garments underneath, I miss the essence. Purim and the Bigdei Kehunah are about directing me towards essence. I dress up in ridiculous costumes so that I can barely recognize my exteriors. On Purim the exteriors do not matter, it's my essence that does. My essence is a Neshomah. When I focus on the unbelievable purity of the Jewish soul, I begin to enter into what essence is really all about, I begin taking steps into Kodesh HaKodashim, and this is how we grow.

B’Ezras Hashem we should all be Zoche to learn to see who we really are. When we look past all the blinding exteriors, there is purity waiting to be uncovered. Now is the time that I can do it. Purim is about eternity, meaning that the parts of me that I uncover now, I can make a part of me forever. If we can do this there is no doubt that we will live lives of meaning, moving closer to the Creator and thereby, closer to the redemption!

True Honor

Now that I have taken my Pre-Shabbos dip into the purifying waters of the Rova mikva, I will allow myself to tell a story about the HOLY OF HOLIES GAON YISRAEL VIKODSHO RAV AVRAHAM YITZCHAK HAKOHEN KOOK.

This story was related by Rabbi Shmuel Shezuri of blessed memory: When Rav Kook returned to Israel in 1925 from his fundraising trip to America, the residents of Jerusalem wanted to set up a gate of honor on the main street that led to his house. At first the authorities gave them permission but then it was revoked. The gate that had been set up was taken down and moved to a side street.

When the politician in charge came to the Rav to visit, he began to apologize and explain what compelled him to revoke his permission. It would cause traffic problems, he explained. The Rav was not bothered in the slightest and said:" The gemara says that there are two types of pains [yissurim], pains that come as a result of sin and pains that come as a result of G-d's love [yissurim shel ahava]. When I was in America I learned about a third type of pain - pains of honor. They gave me such a tremendous amount of honor, from the Astor Hotel until the beach, a distance of two hours, the road was cleared of traffic in order that my car could pass - until I felt great pain from all of this honor. Why are you apologizing?! You eased my pain! On the contrary, I appreciate it!!" The politician was QUITE impressed.

Let me explain a little bit more. Why does Rov Kook not need honor? Because he is filled with G-dliness!! G-d is filled with honor [ubiheichalo koolo omer kavod, baruch kavod Hashem mimkomo] and Rav Kook is suffused with this honor. When he starts receiving honor from external sources, it is almost insulting. I have G-d! I don't need validation from human beings. So superficial, so meaningless!!

Sweetest friends!! Your value is not determined by how many people friended you on Facebook but by how close you are to the Source of all being. Everything else is merely one facet of the falsehood of this world.

May we all merit to be filled with true honor - and then share this honor with others. Aizehoo mechubad? Hamechabed es habriyos.

Love, Blessings and A Heavenly Shabbos Sweetest And Most Beloved Friends!!

New Shiur

If you happened not to have been in Yeshiva this thursday night this is what you missed.

Transforming Bad Odors

"Don't hurry. Don't worry. You're only here for a short visit. So don't forget to stop and smell the roses."

Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

In the beis hamikdash there was ketores [incense] that contained eleven spices. They all smelled great - except for one - the chelbana. The chelbana smelled - you will excuse me - yichee!! BUT - when combined with all of the other spices it smelled very good.

Haman was a rotten guy. But in the end, he was almost a hero. I mean, he was the one who set up the salvation of the Jews. His evil decree brought the Jews to Teshuva, he set up the victorious march around town that Mordechai took on the king's horse with the king's clothing. He built the tree upon which he was hanged together with his sons. So alone he smelled terrible but together with other good smelling things like Mordechai and Esther [Mordechai is alluded to in the gemara with the words "mor dror" - in Aramaic "mari dachya" which is a sweet smelling oil and Esther is a sweet smelling myrtle branch "Hadassa"] he smelled super.

Maybe that is why chelbana is exactly the gematria of Haman [95]!!!

[Based on the Bnei Yisaschar]

In the end - everything ended up smelling like a sweet rose "SHOSHANAS Yaakov tzahala visameicha" - The Rose of Yaakov rejoiced.

Let us conclude with a line from Will: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." William Shakespeare

Not A Traffic Cop

My translation from the Heilige Sefer "Bi'Ohr Pnei Melech Chaim" : Hashem is not static. He doesn't sit up in heaven waiting to see how we are going to behave and give us marks like a traffic cop who writes reports about anyone who breaks a law. NO!! He is BURNING, filled with infinite love towards each and every one of us. He loves us a lot more than we love him just as a father loves a son more than a son loves a father. It is an powerful love that burns within Him.

The most important thing is the heart ["halev hu ha'ikker"]. The heart will bring the redemption. Here, in the heart, we have to wage the war. Of course we must constantly expand out knowledge and broaden our intellect, but at the end of the day everything is about heart.

Psach LEBEE Bisorasecha - Open My HEART to your Torah!!!!

OYYYYYY TYERE YIDDEN - Care about each other from the depths our our heart, daven from the depths of our heart, be happy from the depths of our heart, everything with lev!!

Ad dilo yada: On Purim we go beyond mere yedia - intellectual knowledge, and we get to the heart.

Love and Blessings From The Heart!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ad Dilo Yada

The latest from a shiur given for women in my home on wed. nights - here. Nesivos Shalom [as the young people might say] ROCKS!!

A Mixture

This post was triggered by a comment my friend and former chavrusa R' Shlomo posted to a previous post. A big thank you to him. I believe I am just expanding on a point he already made.

There once lived a Jew [who long ago went to the world of truth] who singlehandedly brought thousands of Jews back to their faith and to lives of complete observance. Many people are involved in kiruv organizations but he literally ran a one man kiruv organization and was successful beyond imagination. This was due to his great talents, knowledge of Torah and primarily his boundless love for people. Many people try to follow him but there is nothing like the original.

They say that his love for Jews was so overwhelming that when he would meet one he would give a warm embrace. The problem was that this show of affection was not reserved for men alone, woman were also recipients of this embrace. I don't know for sure if this is true because I never saw it myself but that is what people say.

Some people considered him a rasha. To hug a woman is not only forbidden but the halacha dictates that one should DIE before doing so [see the end of the eighth chapter of Sanhedrin with the commentaries]. I personally would definitely rather die before doing what he did. There is no room for such a serious breach of halacha!!

On the other hand we must see where he was coming from. The answer, I am convinced, is a place of love and purity. The expression of this love was inappropriate but the source of his actions was beautiful. I also feel love for many different types of people but obviously try to express it in ways that are in accordance with Jewish standards of Holiness, Purity and Godliness. I strongly identify with this individual and his desire to connect with others while at the same time no less strongly condemning his actions.

The question is how do we relate to this person? Was he a "good guy" or a "bad guy"? Should we try to emulate him or not? The answer is that we should see both sides and appreciate the good while shunning the bad. People are not all good or all bad. We are ALL mixtures of both!! Our avoda in this world is to make our good sides so dominant that the bad is rendered negligible.
We can look at a person and say "He has two sides, the bad doesn't cancel the good and the good doesn't cancel the bad". It is important to be aware that the bad is bad, otherwise we are liable to follow the person even in his areas of weakness. But that doesn't mean that it is an all or nothing proposition. And even when focusing on the bad it is important to realize that maybe it came from a good place. Just as when appreciating the good in ourselves we must realize that sometimes our mitzvos might NOT be emanating from the purest of places. Maybe we have ulterior motives for our mitzvos and we must work to perfect our source of motivation.

Example: The Torah and Chazal make it clear that great people sinned yet this does not negate their greatness. Adam, Chava, Noach, The Avos, The Shvatim, Moshe Rabbeinu, Dovid Hamelech etc. etc. The Torah is so honest about their failings in order that we appreciate the fact that great people fail and yet remain great people. Only Hashem is infallible.

The Rebbe Shlita has given many many shiurim emphasizing this point. A person is a "gemishichtz" - a mixture, and most situations in life are also not black and white.

Practically speaking what does this mean? When relating to people try to be forgiving and understanding by seeing the whole picture. For example, I might not the fact that an Israeli soldier doesn't keep kosher and Shabbos but I appreciate the fact that he risks his life to defend me. To those observant Jews who hate the idea of kollel and say "Why don't those guys get a job?!", I answer that, yes, you would like them to get a job but you must appreciate the fact that they are involved day and night in study of the Word of Hashem.

Some people are furious at their parents for sins of omission or commission. I would explain to them that it could very well be that your parents harmed you in some way but that doesn't negate all of the good they have done for you [such as bringing you into this world]. If a couple is fighting I would say "Are you MAD at her?" "YES" he answers. "I respect that," I would answer, "and your anger and its causes must be addressed, but has she ever done anything positive on your behalf?" No husband could ever answer "no" to such a question. Once you reach this point and the perspective is more balanced it is much easier to solve problems.

When you get down on yourself it is important to realize that yes, you not might be the person you would like to be, but there is still much good to be appreciated. Then work on eradicating the bad and further developing the good.

Love and Blessings Sweetest Friends!!

PS - I must reiterate that this post in no way relates to the present scandal about which I don't know any details and don't WANT to know any details. I want to know about Torah, Kedusha, Tahara, Ahavas Yisrael and how to improve my middos. I don't think all of the discussion surrounding this scandal has made anyone into a better person. I never see how talking about evil makes one into a better person unless done in the framework of limud hamussar. So Mevakesh Lev is making an attempt to get his readers to focus on what is holy and leave the shmutz for the unfortunate people who make a living spreading it.

Mi-she Mi-she Mishenichnas Adar Marbim Marbim...

Mishenichnas Adar Marbim Bisimcha - When Adar enters we experience increased happiness.

Most people understand this to mean that it is automatic. Adar is a time of increased happiness. The Heilige Klauzenberger reads differently "When Adar enters WE must increase happiness". It is a command! Go around and make people happy. That is the avodah of Adar. Go to a hospital, old age home, or just call a lonely person and increase his/her happiness. Haman's Lashon Hara was that we are "mefurad" - emotionally distant from one another. The way to beat him is to come together and make others feel good about themselves and consequently about you.

Love and Blessings:):)!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Judging Favorably

In the previous post I asked to be judged favorably. A true story I heard from a woman: She was a very religious girl and was dating a very religious boy. On a date he had his tefillin with him and she noticed that there was a mirror in his tefillin bag. She was appalled!! She couldn't imagine that a serious Ben Torah would be so concerned with his external appearance that he carries around a mirror. Could she marry such a boy??

Only afterwards she found out that men keep a mirror in their tefillin bag to make sure that the head tefillin are placed on the head squarely between the eyes. Today they are happily married.

Sometimes we think the worst about somebody, when the truth is that all he is trying to do is place G-d's presence squarely in his brain!!!

May we always see only the best in others!!!!!!!!!!!

A Big Woops!!

OYYYYY YOOOOOY YOOOOOOYYYYY. What a rough week! First a man claims to be me and tries to swindle money out of my friends. Then, what was alluded to in a previous post. Now THIS!!!

Let me explain: The purpose of Mevakesh Lev is to promote kedusha, tahara, ahavas yisrael, the study of Torah, refined character and EVERYTHING GOOD. I have certain guidelines which I have established to enable me to achieve my goals. Now, I enjoy the quotes, as do others. But the truth is that I haven't heard of many of the people I quote. If I ever see a name that symbolizes anything that smacks of sexual immorality, that name will NOT have a place on the blog. The problem is that I am divorced - not from my wife, we get along GREAT - but from Western culture. I don't watch TV, movies, read magazines and newspapers or listen to the radio. I fail to see how any of the aforementioned activities will help me get closer to Hashem so I happily refrain. I encourage others to do the same.

In a recent post I quoted a woman who I was informed tonight is an actress who - uh let us say, does not live a lifestyle worthy of a Bas Yisrael. Or even a Bas Adam for that matter. Apparently she is famous but the Pnei Yehoshua certainly never quoted her and I never heard of her. So I rushed home to delete her name.

In light of this episode I have decided that I will be much more selective as to the names I quote. If I heard of the person and his/her name is NOT associated with pritzus [sexual decadence] I will mention the name. If I am not familiar with the person I will just put quotation marks and omit the name.

SWEETEST FRIENDS!! We live in a extremely revealing world. Everything is for the public view and open to discussion in all forms of media and communication. The Torah Hakedosha exhorts us to distance ourselves from all of that. A Ben Torah keeps his eyes DOWN when he walks down the street and shuns any possibilty of seeing or hearing anything that will distance him in the slightest from Hashem. Our Sages say: Hashem HATES licentiousness ["Sonei Zimah"]. A Bas Yisrael dresses and conducts herself in a way that shows the world [and herself!!] that her primary component is her SOUL and not her body. That is the definition of Jewish beauty [as in, "what a beauty, did you see her davening mincha?!"].

So I apologize for polluting your minds for the brief second you read this woman's name and thank a sweet friend who informed me of her reputation. I really never heard of her. I trust that you will judge me favorably.


The Trifecta Of Love

Recently we wrote about the three loves one must have - Hashem, People and Torah. Today I saw this idea expressed beautiful by that Angel Of G-d, The Holy Ozorover Rebbe Ztz"l.

"The keruvim shall spread their wings upward, shielding the ark-cover with their wings, with their faces turned to each other" [Shmos 25/20]. "Spread their wings upward" - symbolizing love of Hashem. "Shielding the ark-cover with their wings" - symbolizing love of Torah. "With their face turned to each other" - symbolizing love of people.


PS - A special Mazel Tov to the Ozorover's great-grandson Gershon Heyman and his kallah Yaffa on their engagement!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010



This is my latest Purim offering. It continues with the theme we have been discussing recently on the blog.

OUCH! And What To Do

Have you noticed that my blogs have been a tad more serious recently? I believe that they have been! So I will let you in. I have had a very emotionally turmoil-filled week and that has made me more serious than normal. I have been deeply hurt by two sweet Jews. One whom I consider myself very close to, so I know that this person is sweet. The other I barely know but assume he is sweet as I assume of all people. Sweet until proven bitter. [This would be called in Talmudic terminology "chezkas mesikus":).]

It all started on Thursday night when I received a phone call from someone I know telling me something which literally made me shake for about a half hour in addition to causing my head to ache. So I took acamol [tylenol with an Israeli accent] for the headache but the shakes continued. Eventually I calmed down Baruch Hashem. However, there has not been the happy ending I was hoping for.

Why am I telling you this?? So that you should call or email me asking what happened and trying to be there for me. NO!! I have a trusted friend to whom I poured my heart out, so there is nothing left to pour :). I will be fine bez"h. So why am I telling you this?

Everybody has emotional pain from time to time so I thought it would be helpful to mention some coping strategies that might help you in a time of need.

1] Listen to music and dance. Even with yourself. I personally find it extremely difficult to be sad when I hear music. As I am typing this I am listening to "" and feel like dancing [but can't do that as I type]. It lifts the spirits.

2] Whatever happens, it is not the end of the world. If it were, you wouldn't be upset about it because you wouldn't be here. Life goes on and there will be many, many happy times. "Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." Lance Armstrong

3] Pain builds character! "Without pain, there would be no suffering, without suffering we would never learn from our mistakes. To make it right, pain and suffering is the key to all windows, without it, there is no way of life." When you are coasting through life you can't grow nearly as much as when dealing with adversity.

4] DON'T repress the pain. Even if you are a guy. Of course it's not macho to admit that you were emotionally hurt, but you were. So admit it!! You will feel much better.

5] Talk about it with a friend.

6] Don't dwell on it too much. Do something else. A person shouldn't obsessively wallow in despair.

7] Reflect on the lessons learned from the experience that will benefit you and others in the future.

8] REMEMBER! Everything that happens is from Hashem in order to help you in some way. It is very hard for people to accept this idea because when other people are involved they have free will and THEY hurt you - not Hashem! True, they have free will but at the end of the day nobody can do anything to you unless Hashem allows it. So thank Hashem for this experience which hurts but you know that it is coming from a loving father. [Note: Number 8 is harder than 1-7. But we still have to do it!!]

9] Gee whiz, it could be worse. I have never heard of a person in this world who was in a situation that couldn't theoretically be worse.

10] Focus on all of your blessings. They are many and shouldn't be forgotten in the mess.

There is much more to write on this topic but I will keep it short and allow my sweetest friends to add to the list.


To Be ONE!

An email I received about the post on friendship from my beloved friend Dr. Yitzchak Aharon Leifer. I enjoyed his insight so I thought I'd share it:
The only way to have a friend is to be one.-Emerson


When I read this I actually read it two different ways.

1. To be one [a friend]. This is obviously the simple understanding.

2. To be[come] one. To become as one. I just went to the wedding of my sister in law yesterday, so I guess "reut" and marriage is on the brain. How fitting. True ahavah is pure for no reason, just like the Maharal on Avraham/Noach. True friendship mirrors true love where each individual makes room in themselves for someone else becoming as one. A classic idea with a taitch in Emerson.

Mevakesh Lev Talks About Heart

"Of all the music that reached farthest into heaven, it is the beating of a loving heart."

Henry Ward Beecher

Love Hashem, we proclaim a number of times a day, with ALL of your heart. One must garner all of his/her emotion to feel the deepest, most profound love of Hashem. The Navi says "Ahavti eschem omar Hashem" - Hashem loves us, we should reciprocate.

Love people. It is not enough to perform acts of chessed, one must also feel LOVE in ones heart for all. Lo tisna es achicha bilvavecha - Don't hate your brother in your heart. The heart is for love - not for hatred. "Viahavta lirayacha kamocha ani Hashem" - Love your neighbor as yourself - I am Hashem. Just as I Hashem loves YOU unconditionally with no strings attached, so too you should love your friend. This requires an investment of time and energy - but it is REWARDING!

Love Torah. It is not enough to learn Torah. One must LOVE Torah. "Mah ahavti Torasecha, kol hayom he sichasi" - I love your Torah so much, I talk about it all day. Did Dovid Hamelech have nothing else about which to talk?! Oh he did! But he still loved talking about Torah all day. It is sooo interesting, stimulating and keeps me away from the bad stuff [like when people start conversations with me - So, what do think about the latest scandal with ... I would much prefer to be asked "Voos lernsto?" - What are you learning these days? Tell me a chiddush!]. But most importantly - it is dvar Hashem. Just as we love Hashem, we love the expression of His Being as explicated in the Holy Torah.

We beseech Hashem "Psash lebee bisorasecha" - Open my HEART to your Torah. The Rebbe Shlita often points out that we DON'T learn Torah with our hearts but with our minds. Why "heart"? The answer is that ultimately the Torah must penetrate the depths of our hearts. "Vihayu hadvarim ho'aile asher anochi mitzavicha hayom al LEVAVECHA" - The Torah must be on our hearts. The Heilige Kotzker Rebbe asked why it doesn't say "bilvavecha" - In your heart, why "on" your heart? He answers that sometimes the heart is sealed. At those times we must place the Torah on top of our hearts and at some point we will be inspired and our hearts will open up and the Torah will fall in.

So we have a three pronged love: For Hashem, all people and the Torah. All in the heart, on the deepest emotional level.

May we merit to open our hearts with the purest, highest, holiest love for all that is Godly.

Love and Blessings - From The Heart:)!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Speech And Silence

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Elie Wiesel

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

In prayerful silence you must look into your own heart. No one can tell you better than yourself what comes between you and God. Ask yourself. Then listen!

Johannes Tauler

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Ahhhhhh sweetest friends!! We have written many posts about the power of speech but none [that I can recall] about silence. Is silence a good thing or a bad thing?

The Jewish answer [as always]: It depends! Sometimes it is the greatest level of positive expression. Aharon loses his two sons and the pasuk says - Vayidom Aharon - Aharon remained silent. He COULD have complained to Hashem but he accepted the Divine judgement with complete faith.

The Navi teaches that Hashem is to be found "Bikol Demama Daka" - The sound of silence.

The Mishna in Avos says that a certain Tzaddik exclaimed that he grew up amongst the wise and he found nothing greater for the body than silence. The commentaries [I think the Sfas Emes if my memory serves me correctly, or maybe the Maharal] explain that when ones body is silent, the soul is activated. But when the mouth is busy blabbering nothings, the soul is quieted. The best thing for a person is to get his soul moving and for that silence is required.

Silence allows a person to reflect and stimulates a deeper thought process.

However, silence can also be harmful. When two people are angry at each other and not on talking terms the Mishna in Sanhedrin defines their relationship as one of hatred [CHAS VI'SHALOM] and they are disqualified from testifying about each other.

Sometimes, people are silent because they are at a loss as to what to say. Talking helps clarify issues and can be very helpful. One of the 48 ways of acquiring Torah is "Arichas Sfasaim" [Pirkei Avos] - "speaking things out" as they say in Yeshivish vernacular.

If one has a problem and remains silent, it is often unhealthy. "Daaga bilev ish" - Are you worried [says the gemara in Yoma]? "yiseechena liacherim" - talk about it with a friend. You will feel better afterwards.

When people are suffering and we remain silent this is a grievous sin. Silence can hurt. Some people take revenge by giving the "silent treatment". Spouses do this at times. We at Mevakesh Lev do NOT recommend this!!

So silence can be very valuable and can also be harmful - to oneself and others. It requires great wisdom to determine when to be silent and when to speak.

May we always have the powers to discern what the right approach is to any given situation.


Ruminations On Friendship

Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend.


Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them.

Francesco Guicciardini [A bonus if you can pronounce his name!!:)]

When a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it.

Edward W. Howe

The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.

Henry David Thoreau

Shalom Sweetest Friends!!

I have spent much time pondering the nature of true friendship. My conclusion is that a true friend is someone who loves and accepts you NO MATTER WHAT. UNCONDITIONALLY! Then the saying of our Holy Sages pops into my mind [POP!] and I remember - What is true, lasting love? Ahava sheaino tluya badavar - Unconditional love. In good times and bad times.

Wow!! Wouldn't it be great to have such a friend?! Well, I conclude then with a quote from Emerson: The only way to have a friend is to be one.

Love and blessings sweetest friends!!


When Rav Shraga Feivel Mendelovitz embarked on a fundraising mission to finance his Yeshiva, his first stop was in Scranton to a wealthy former talmid who had left practicing Judaism behind. Rav Shraga Feivel hoped that he would lavish some of his incredible wealth on the Yeshiva where he spent his childhood.The wealthy Talmid greeted his old rebbi graciously. He was expecting a warm bracha despite his wayward path, since after all Rav Shraga Feivel came to get money from him. To his shock, Rav Shraga Feivel took one look at him and said, "Woe is unto me. I am destined to burn in Gehinom for raising a Talmid that turned out like you!"The wealthy former talmid was taken aback and deeply moved by his rebbi's purity and integrity. Even for money he would not show false favor. The Talmid then gave a generous donation to the Yeshiva. (Shlucha D'Rachmana)


This reminds me of a story of the Holy Of Holies, The Klausenberger Rebbe. There was once a man who was going to give the Rebbe an extremely large sum of money for his institutions. The Rebbe quizzed the man: Do you keep Shabbos? No. Do you shave with a razor? Yes. etc. etc. Then the Rebbe ripped him [this was a man who knew better]. He said "I know that you are going to give the money elsewhere and you are going to get a lot of honor. But maybe one day you will remember that an old man told you that you have to keep mitzvos and you will correct your ways." Needless to say the Rebbe didn't take his money. [Heard from Rav Asher Weiss Shlita]

Sweetest friends!!! Are there dishonest people who wear yarmulkes and put on tefillin? UNFORTUNATELY! But we must remember that there are also many great people of impeccable integrity and we should strive to emulate them!


The End Is Just The Beginning!!

Today is the seventh of Adar. Haman was soooo happy that the lot fell out in Adar because in Adar [the seventh] Moshe Rabbeinu died. What he didn't know was that on the seventh of Adar Moshe was also born. This means that just when you think it is over for us - it is really just the beginning. [I think I heard this idea from Rav Moshe Schapiro Shlita] We Jews have the power of "Vinahaphoch Hu" - everything that looks bad will really turn around for the best.

The word in hebrew for "on the contrary" is "aderabe". This word is composed of two words - "Adar Bah" - Adar is in it. The power of turning everything around is in Adar!! [Heard bishem Hatzaddik Rav Amos ben Shoshana Raizel Luban Shlita]

May Hashem help us turn all of the difficulties in our lives into rousing successes.

Love and Blessings!!

PS - A VERY Happy Birthday today to one of Moshe Rabbeinu's great followers [and avid reader of the blog]: CR"BDS!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Sweet Taste Of Victory

The battle began!!

This Shabbos afternoon I took a delicious Shabbos Shluf but all too soon I had to rise for the Mincha services. I have noticed that they don't wait for me when I tarry so I had to get up - otherwise I would miss it. Was I tired!! How am I going to get up?! The Mesillas Yesharim says that the road to greatness is paved with alacrity, known affectionately as "Zrizus". Easier said than done!!

Suddenly I hear the music blasting in my mind "Ma ma ma, ma ma ma [no, nothing to do with my mother, but] ma tovoo ohalecha yaakov, ma ma ma ma ma ma MAAAAA mishkinoseeeeecha yisrael." My mind started playing Schwecky!! Loud and leibidig!!!

How can I remain horizontal in face of the stimulating music? So I rose!!


A Wonderful Week For All Of My Beloved Friends!!!:)

PS - A tremendous mazel tov to my sister Naomi Weberman on the birth of a daughter last night! Now, despite the fact that when she got married she added the word "Web" to her name, nevertheless she is fortunate enough not to have internet access, so she won't be reading this. But I still give her and my brother-in-law Hagaon Rav Yossi my bracha that they should be zoche to raise this daughter, litorah, chuppah and maasim tovim together with all of their other children k"y. And a big mazel to the grandparents on both sides, particularly my parents who should see nachas from all of their grandchildren [KEYN YIRBU!] in good health. Amen keyn yehi ratzon!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Did You Hear?!

A Halachic question that was presented in the Beis Medrash tonight. Damaging information that EVERYBODY knows about: Is it permitted to talk about it? Maybe it goes into the category of "davar hayadua lakol" and is therefore permitted.

Well, I won't tell you what I answered but I will say that unless one can clearly answer - Permitted! and understand the conditions under which it is permitted, he should not speak. And when someone brings it up, the lobes should be firmly planted in the ears, as the gemara at the beginning of ksubos advises. Or - RUN away as from a fire. Lashon Hara is worse than a fire - it roasts the Neshama.

I would love to hear people's feedback on the halacha in such an instance. It is a very involved sugya in the gemara in Erchin [what's that?]!! If you learn it - would love to hear from you.

Love and Blessings!!!

A Laugh And A Lesson

Sent by my beloved Mother:

A Jewish woman goes to see her Rabbi in Bnei Brak .
'' Yankele and Yosele are both in love with me,'' she says. ''Who will be the lucky one?''
The wise old Rabbi answers: " Yankele will marry you. Yosele will be the lucky one."


Parsha Terumah - "Viyikchu li terumah" Take for me a donation.

Take for me?? It should say "Give to me!!" Oy vey!! A mistake in the Torah!!


The lesson of life! Do you really want to get something out of another person? Do you really want to receive all that life has to offer?

Then GIVE!!! When they gave a donation to the Mishkan they were really taking for themselves the best life has to offer - the opportunity to give.

G-d's presence could only dwell in a structure that was built with the heartfelt donations of the Jews. "Yidvenu libo" - A donation from the heart.

Lesson for life: Give - and with a loving heart!

That is what brings down the Divine Presence!!

Love, Blessings And A Simply Blissful Shabbos To All Of My Sweetest Friends!!

Tzvi Moshe Kantor: Divine Light Refraction

This week’s Parsha explains and lists in great detail the building and design of the Mishkan. We know that the Torah is not merely a storybook and that everything contained in it is a lesson in Avodas Hashem that is relevant today. Let’s try to explore the concepts that relate to Mishkan and how they relate to way that I approach my relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.
The Ramban explains in the introduction to the Parsha that the Mishkan is the way that we keep the ball rolling from Har Sinai. At Ma’amad Har Sinai a fantastic spiritual potential blasts forth. The public revelation of God and all the accompanying miracles release an unbelievable light. He goes onto explain that now that this light has entered the physical reality, there has to be a setting for it to rest amongst the Jews; hence we build a ‘house for God,’ a resting place for the Shechina - the Mishkan, so that this light can be concretized among us.

To take things a step further, we need to introduce a concept from Jewish esoteric thought called Oros and Keilim - Lights and Vessels. Lights are the spiritual energies that enter the world based on Hashem’s will, and the Vessels are the setting through which the Lights are able to manifest and be accepted into the physical plane.

The Mishkan, and the Keilim of the Mishkan (the Menorah, the Aron, the different Mizbachos etc) are the Keilim that accept the Oros, the lights that reflect the Retzon Hashem that is revealed at Har Sinai.

We can approach this like stained glass. A beam of light passes through the various filters of stained glass and results in different colored beams emerging on the other side. The light of Har Sinai, the huge spiritual potential that enters, filters through the various Keilim of the Mishkan to display different facets of the one, unified light of Retzon Hashem. The Menorah achieves something that the Aron does not. The Aron posses qualities that the Mizbeach HaZahav does not and so on. Each of the Keilim is a different concretization of the Or of Ratzon Hashem.
The Passuk says, “V’Asu Li Mikdash V’Shachanti B’Socham” ‘They shall make me a Mishkan, and I will dwell in them.’ What is ‘them’ - the people? Surely ‘in it’ would be better. Chazal famously explain that that the Passuk makes perfect sense. Through the building of the Mishkan, Hashem rests in the individual, “B’Chol Echad V’Echad” thus the Passuk says “In them” and not “In it.” We need to explain how this is so.

Let’s put these ideas on the hold momentarily, digress, and then tie everything together at the end.

The Gemara in Masseches Yoma (69b) tells over the following: Moshe Rabbeinu in Parshas Eikev (10:17) declares Hashem to be Gadol, Gibor and Nora, Great, Powerful and Awesome. With the full perspective of all that Moshe witnessed in Egypt, and in the desert – all the open miracles, he gives Hashem these titles.

The Jews continued to praise God in this way for a long time. The conquering of Eretz Yisrael and the building of the first Beis HaMikdash are all replete with open miracles, and thus the titles that Moshe instituted remained in place.

But things turned downhill towards the end of First Temple era. As the First Temple era came to a close, the Prophets of the time no longer saw these outward miracles, they no longer saw the obvious and blatant control of Hashem and they stripped away the usage of these terms. No longer were they used in Tefilah or in reference to God.

But then, at the beginning of Bayis Sheini, the Second Temple era, the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah, the Great Assembly, instituted the Shmoneh Esrei and brought back the titles of Gadol, Gibor and Nora. The Gemara says that this is the greatness of the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah. So where is the switch in perspective that allowed them to see Gadol, Gibor and Nora in a way that the Prophets at the end of the First Temple era did not? The Maharsha brings the answer. The change in perspective was:

What did they see? They had the eyes to perceive the miracles of Purim even though they were not supernatural or flashy. They were able to see God’s hand operating within the constraints of the world. Contrary to the viewpoint of the Prophets, the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah were able to see Gadol, Gibor and Nora, within a natural context. This is their greatness.
(As a side point: it is interesting to note that the tune used to read Eicha, [the lamentations over the destruction of the First Temple], and Megilas Esther are strikingly similar. There are a few minor differences in the tune that can only be described as saying that Megilas Esther has a slightly more “goofy” melody. It could be that the connection lies in what we just established – what makes the viewpoint of the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah so great is the tiny shift from the perspective of Eicha to the headspace of Megilas Esther.)

It’s spoken about a lot that Purim is Kabalas HaTorah Round Two. The Gemara in two places (Shabbos 88a and Shevuos 39b) explains, Kiymu Mah SheKiblu Kvar. Because of the Purim story, the Jews stood up and confirmed what they previously accepted. The Jews reaccepted the Torah. The energies of Har Sinai re-entered the world. But they did so in the way we explained above when talking about the Anshei Knesses HaGedola All the miracles that were present and felt at Ma’amad Har Sinai Round One, were re-experienced, albeit within the context of the physical, mundane reality during Kabalas HaTorah Round Two.

The Maor Va’Shemesh explains based on the AriZal that the light of Purim, its spiritual potential, is the highest. It’s higher than Yom Kippur, it’s higher that Shabbos Kodesh. Hashem shines down an Or more powerful than at any other point in the year. And this is the reason that we dress up in ridiculous costumes. What’s the connection? He explains that on Shabbos Kodesh we dress up to transform ourselves into fitting receptacles so we can grab onto the Oros that Shabbos Kodesh has to offer. But the light of Purim has a greater scale of influence. The Oros of Purim shine from a place that is even higher and more potent and powerful, and thus can penetrate deeper to fix even the lowliest spiritual places. Because of this we dress up as punks, as Spider Man, as clowns, sports stars, as whatever, because in our doing this, on a spiritual level we allow the Oros of Purim to penetrate an add holiness into even more mundane things. We add spirituality to the lowest levels of the world. On Purim, out of the most physical of things, we are able to stimulate the highest spirituality.

As we have established, there is a parallel between the experience of Har Sinai and Purim – it is the acceptance and the re-acceptance of the Torah. Thus on some level the structure of the two should also parallel. We explained above based on the Ramban that the way that we concretize the Oros of Har Sinai is through the Keilim of the Mishkan. In the same way that the Oros of Har Sinai become solidified in the Mishkan, the Oros of Purim come down and enter into us when we don our ridiculous costumes. It all comes back to the Purim/Har Sinai connection. Now we can understand what we said all the way at the beginning. What does is mean that the presence of Hashem will rest ”B’Chol Echad V’Echad” – in each individual? The answer could be, that in the same way that Retzon Hashem manifests in the various Keilim of the Mishkan, so too with our costumes, we our facilitating ourselves in becoming those same vessels in which Ratzon Hashem can come down in a way it only does once a year. And thus it is V’Shachanti B’Socham, Hashem mammash sends His presence into us. We become the Keilim.

What a wonderful gift Hashem has sent me! I am afforded the ability to transform myself into a vessel that directly accepts Hashem’s highest spiritual gifts. Baruch Hashem! We say T'shuasam Hayisa LaNetzach. Purim is all about eternity. The internal change I can make on Purim, can stay with me forever… if I do it right. I have to focus myself to see how at everystep I am, to the best of my ability, channeling Retzon Hashem through myself. I need to constantly ask myself: "What does Hashem want from me at this moment? How can I be the best Kli to accept Hashem’s Oros? What can I transform myself into? How high can I go?" Do we ask ourselves these questions often enough? I don’t know, but at this time of the year where we are learning about how to concretize Hashem’s will is a moment where we need to introspect and seriously think: “Have I been a good Kli lately?" B'Ezras Hashem we should all be Zoche to realize the potential we have in us. Hashem should grant us the gift to see the potential in ourselves. We can become creations of the highest order – Hashem will dwell in the world through us. If we can do this, there is no doubt we will live lives of meaning, moving closer to the Creator and thereby closer to the Redemption!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Pure Tzaddikim

Don't complain about evil

Rather they add righteousness

They don't complain about heresy

Rather they add faith

They don't complain about ignorance

Rather they add wisdom"

Rav Kook Zatz"l

The internet is abuzz [I am told - I didn't check and don't plan to] with talk of the latest scandal. The aforementioned quote from Rav Kook is my response.

TYERE YIDDEN - MOST BELOVED AND SWEETEST FRIENDS!! Let's not get involved in the Shmutz!

Ahhh, but what are you going to do with your free time instead?

A suggestion.


Am I - I?

"If I am I because I am I and you are you because you are you - then I am I and you are you.
But if I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I - then I am not I and you are not you."

Holy Kotzker Rebbe

LEHAVDIL! [Between the wise gentiles I am about to quote and the Angel of G-d who inhabited the body of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgenstern.]

“Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man's life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.”

B.E. Ambedkar [Indian Politician]

"Committing yourself is a way of finding out who you are. A man finds his identity by identifying. A man's identity is not best thought of as the way in which he is separated from his fellows but the way in which he is united with them."

Robert Terwilliger [Don't ask. I don't know either:)]

Shalom again sweetest and most beloved friends!!

A thought or two on the identity theft that took place this week.

A shayne maiseh fun Satmar Rebbe : A chossid asked permission from the Rebbe if he could imitate him. It was Purim and he wanted to entertain the chassidim. The Rebbe agreed. The man stood up on one of the tables and started screaming and crying as the Rebbe did when he davened [ BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRREEEEEEEECHHH AAAAATUUUUUUUUUUUUH......]. He noticed that as he was carrying on to the delight of all of the chevre, the Rebbe was crying. He ran up to the Rebbe with great alarm and said "Oy Rebbe, I am so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt the Rebbe's feelings. That is why I asked permission."

"No, no! You did nothing wrong. Your imitation was excellent. But I was thinking to myself - Maybe, I too am also imitating MYSELF when I daven." [I read the story in one of Rabbi Krohn's books many years ago. You can look it up to see if I got all of the details right.]

So I was thinking: Am I really being me? Or am I imitating Ally Ehrman? [If I am, I do a much better job than the imposter. I thank all of my sweetest friends who told me that when they read the email they knew in a second that it couldn't be me. It is nice to know that people know me well, many just by virtue of the blog. And for those who almost fell for it and wanted to send me money, thanks for caring. In Shomayim it counts. You wanted to help a Jew in distress.] I have a black hat, beard, gartel, and wear a black suit and people call me a name that means a] quarrel b] the name of a anti-virus website c] Rabbi ["Rav"]. So am I really being true to myself and Hashem or am I just putting on a show. So I have to do a serious cheshbon hanefesh [take stock of my spiritual level].

As for my sweetest friends!! I believe each one of you is not imitating yourself or following the dictates of society. But just in case!! It always helps to scrutinize our deeds. Even the tyere, heilige, groise tzadikkim who read Mevakesh Lev. Can you stand before Hashem and say - "Hashem I am 1000 percent with you from the depths of my soul. I don't care what people think or say about me. All that matters to me is the pure unadulterated emes."


Love And Blessings!!

Please daven for the Rebbe Shlita who is suffering from health issues - R' Yitzchak Menachem ben Gittel Mirel Breindel Leah. Here is a great Pre-Purim shiur in English.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Yismach Lev Mevakshei Hashem

Shalom Sweetest Friends!!!

So here is the story: Someone found out my password, broke into my email and blog, sent out an email to all of my contacts asking for money and then changed my password. Every email sent to my old account is received by him. I also cannot access the blog so alleyways is no longer active.

Anyone who knows me well could hopefully decipher that it wasn't me. A] It is against my nature to request money for myself. I have B"H and even if I didn't I wouldn't ask. Hashem created us to give and not to take and I will attempt to remain faithful to that. B] There was no mention of love or anything to that effect in the email so if you are going to impersonate me at least get it right. C] It wasn't in the least bit funny. I can't say I am funny but I certainly try. The letter was as dry as a leaf in August. [If you come up with any good metaphors for "as dry as", please tell me!!]

Some people communicated with the imposter and he signed the email "Rav Ehrman". I don't sign my name "Rav". Rav Moshe Feinstein signed his letters without the honorific title and I am many times his inferior. I am just a Talmid. Not by virtue of humility but fact. [If I am humble it is only because I have so much to be humble about :).]

Anyway - I learned some mussar from this experience so I hope that it makes up for all of the bittul torah it caused. But maybe I will discuss it more in a later post.

In the meantime - GAM ZU LITOVAH!!!

Also, I profoundly apologize to all of my tyere friendlich [precious friends] for any trouble this may have caused you.

For the future - always be wary of suspicious emails.


Important note: Today is my Father's Birthday!!! :) For a present, his son's identity was stolen... Happy Birthday Pop - Biz A Hundret Un Tzvontzik!!!!

PS - My new email address is

I will conclude with one kashya. If someone else is me - then who am I???!