Monday, May 31, 2010

Be There - Or Be Elsewhere

Due to my spiritual impoverishment some boys have agreed to come to my apartment to give me chizzuk [boy, do I need it!] by participating in a chug/shiur. You too are invited. Thursday night 7:30 115 central park west 72 street apt. 9b [Ehrman]. One generous tzaddik offered to pay for the whole thing. I will not allow this. So a 10 dollar donation is SUGGESTED [though certainly not mandatory] to pay for the food [kosher!!!:)]. Mincha then followed later by maariv [so please don't daven earlier so that we have a minyan].

Love and blessings!!!:):)

PS - I am not humble - I am truly nothing. But there is value in Jews getting together to think about what really matters. I also thank the hosts of this event - Mr. and Mrs. Ehrman. They hosted me in their home for about 15 years and continue to treat me as a son. So touching!!!:)

PPS - Speaking of chizzuk, my friend Reb Shmuel gives me chizzuk with posts such as this [and many others].

Why, Why?

A question posed to me by a HOLY YID! : "Hashomayim shomayim lashem viha'aretz nosan livnei adam" [The heavens heavens are to Hashem and the earth is given to man] - Why is Shomayim repeated while the "earth" isn't?

PS. I keep meeting people who tell me that they read mevakesh. [I never knew that people in America also have internet access as they do in Israel.] Since it takes up my most valuable asset to write these posts i.e. time, I truly appreciate it when people tell me that they benefit. When I get to shomayim, shomayim, and Hashem will look at my record I can't imagine he will be very excited but hopefully I can say to Him: "Hashem - somebody listened when I spoke about You".

Love and blessings!:)

PPS - A special thanks to eveyone who troubled themselves to my apartment today to learn Torah - and for all of the smiles. It was ALMOST like being in Yerushalayim!:)

The Search For The Soul And How We Lose It

Something that has been troubling me: One of our goals as human beings [as opposed to animals] is to become internally focused, deep and spiritual. When a woman dresses in a certain way the men who see her become externally focused, shallow, base and animalistic.

Bnos Yisrael Hakdoshos Vihatihiros - PLEASE have mercy on your souls and the souls of the people around you and dress in such a way that makes it clear that what really matters to you is not what is visible to the human eye but what is INSIDE. When you dress otherwise you cheapen yourself. Men may enjoy looking at you but they don't respect you more. On the contrary!

Sometimes I wonder how women who attended religious schools and seminaries in Israel can dress in ways that are so suggestive. [I never say anything though - I am too polite and don't want to make her feel badly. So I am using the "mevakesh" to spread the word. But I suspect that the people who read "mevakesh" don't need this post and the people who need this post aren't reading "mevakesh".] Maybe they just don't respect themselves enough to dress in a way that will not attract attention or maybe there are other reasons. I am not saying that women should look ugly or wear a black veil. I am just saying that they should remember that as daughters of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov their standards should be higher than the general society. The general society is corrupt and morally depraved and we as the Chosen People are supposed to guide the way - and not blindly follow the latest styles.

I ask forgiveness if I caused anyone a feeling of discomfort with this post.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Raising The Light - Tzvi Moshe Kantor On The Parsha

This week’s Parsha begins with the commandment from Hashem to Aharon HaKohento light the Menorah. Sadly candles and flames have been transformed by pop-culture to be symbols of either cheesy-romantic themes or the occult witchcraft motif. Hopefully through a deeper analysis of the Torah’s approach to the concepts, we will come away with more profound understanding of a Jew’s role in the world.

Our goal is to address a very simple textual question present it the second Passuk of the Parsha. The Passuk says …Beha’aloscha Es HaNeiros. Hashem commands Aharon HaKohen - “When you kindle the lamps etc” Beha’aloscha’s translation in context is ‘to kindle’ but literally finds its root in Liha’alot to raise up. What does Hashem mean when He tells Aharon HaKohen to raise up the candles? And to make things more relevant: The Torah is supposed to be applicable to me – where I am now! What do I gain out of learning about Aharon HaKohen’s role, when it was just for him, and that time. He’s not here and neither is the Menorah, so what do I gain from this?
In order to answer this we need to present a very fundamental concept in Jewish thought: words and the various themes that they represent are all interconnected throughout all of their appearances in Torah-literature. So let’s address the very abused image of the candle and see what Hashem says about the subject. We have two Psukim, both in Mishlei:
“Ki Neir Mitzva V’Torah Ohr” – Mitzvos are the candle and Torah is the light. (6:23)
And also: “Neir Hashem Nishmas Adam” – Hashem’s candle is the soul of man. (20:23)
Out of these Psukim we gain new insight into the two aspects of the candle: The essence of a candle is deeply connected to Mitzvos and the soul of man. Ok, great, but what’s the connection?! We can begin with a beautiful Midrash that connects the two.
“Hashem says to Am Yisrael: Your candle is in my hand, and My candle is in yours. I hold your candle, “Neir Hashem Nishmas Adam” and you hold Mine, “Ki Neir Mitzva V’Torah Ohr”.
So these two Psukim are clearly connected to one another. Thus at this point we have arrived at the conclusion that whatever theme it is that a candle manifests, that concepts applies to both the Jewish soul and to Mitzvos – connecting their roles as well.
(The following are concepts from various places in the Sfas Emes found in this week’s Parsha with personal embellishments.)

To begin our analysis let’s being by conceptualizing the common denominator – the candle. What exactly is a candle? We can say a few things for certain. First a flame is always reaching upward. The flame itself, and the path of its growth is an ascending journey. Flames rise. That’s first. Second, a candle lifts up the quality of existence of its fuel, in that it takes wax or oil, very crude, raw material and steps up its whole being by transforming it into something much more lofty – heat and light: energy. In reality there is light present inside of the fuel, it just needs the candle to extract and reveal it. In essence a candle is a vessel in which dense physicality is cast upward and outward in a new form of something far loftier.

The world consists of endless dense, physical objects. Contained within all matter is the will of Hashem: how HaKadosh Baruch Hu wants it to be used or what He wants to come out of it. How? Says the Zohar, Istakel Be’Oraisa V’Bara Alma - Hashem peered into the Torah and created the world. This means that the Torah is inner-frame on which all things are formed. Inside any given object is its Penimius, its internal value – its interior component of Ratzon Hashem. This is the other half of the Passuk we mentioned before. This is the V’Torah Ohr - Torah is the light.

This is the job of Mitzvos. Just like we said that the light is present in the fuel but it needs the candle to expose it, so too the Ohr Torah, the spiritual light enclosed within physicality is revealed through the Neir Mitzva the candle of the Mitzvos.

Man serves the same purpose. The Vilna Gaon in his commentary to Mishlei makes the following parallel: In the same way that we explained that Mitzvos connect Torah down to earth, so too man connects heaven and earth. The soul is a manifestation of the heavens; (Neshama in Gematria equals HaShamayim) its source is from the highest place. The body is a manifestation of earth; the whole body boils down to natural minerals. Man as a unit is both body and soul - heaven and earth meet where body and soul do. Thus man is the connection between heaven and earth, the unification of divine and corporeal.

To begin to things together we can say that Man and Mitzva are the tools that harmonize the relationship between Ruchaniyus and Gashmius. They escalate the spirituality within the physicality. In Chassidus this concept is called being Ma’aleh the Gashmius - raising up the physicality. We could’ve said being Mekadesh, making the physicality holy. We could’ve said being Megaleh, revealing the holiness. But we say being Ma’aleh the Gashmius. Through the ‘Candle’ of Mitzvos we cause ascension to the raw physicality of this world revealing its light of Torah.

So now things should be becoming clearer. Beha’aloscha Es HaNeiros is teaching us how we as Jews function! Every single thing in the vast expanse of universe is brimming over with its Ohr Torah. Just like a candle, it’s the Mitzvos that the Jewish people carry out that elevates all of existence!

This all sounds very esoteric, but we can make it all really practical. I can live my life totally caught up in this world. I can walk around because ‘that’s just what I do’, or we can go about life with spiritually inclined minds that no matter how mundane the action is, my soul flickers upward. My intentions in everything I do, my headspace (irrelevant as to what my ‘body-space’ is) is in a higher place.

There are very concrete ways of doing this. Any Mitzva takes a mundane object and reveals its Ohr Torah, but the concept extends past the Mitzvos that I do, I can revealRatzon Hashem in every aspect of my life. While I eat dinner, it’s not jut about filling my stomach but rather what I can utilize that energy for. When I walk through the street I can repaint reality by the thoughts I choose to think. When I befriend another we can forge the relationship over the smallest irrelevancies or we can bond over something higher. Ultimately is way we elevate – in a very literal sense – the entire world around us.

With all of this in mind we can each begin to lift up our personal candles. We each can begin a life of Beha’aloscha Es HaNeiros. When we tap into the unique power of the soul and utilize the exclusive influence of Mitzvos we can change the world. B’Ezras Hashem we’ll be Zoche to realize this potential. Through this we will live lives ofmeaning and happiness, moving closer to the Creator and ultimately the redemption!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Since we mentioned newspapers in the previous post I wanted to share an idea mentioned in the sefer "da es atzmicha".

Chassidus teaches that a person is where his thoughts are. So for example you could be eating a delicious dinner in a fancy restaurant but if you are thinking about a grandparent who is ill in the hospital, you are really not in the restaurant but in the hospital. The physical body is not what determines your true location but your mindset.

When a person opens up a newspaper and reads about a murder, he becomes IN the murder. When reads about other crimes [I won't share more examples] he becomes PART of the act. It makes his mind filthy and impure. His drags his own mind through the gutter!

Conversely, when he thinks or reads about positive and pure behavior he likewise becomes part of it.

Newspapers are all about evil. Why would one willingly subject himself to that? Indeed people are bored and looking for stimulation but there are other forms of stimulation in this world. Here are some:

1] A gemara! Haven't found such a stimulating book in my life.

2] If you are a woman - a Tanach! [Guys too!!] Chumash with Ramban - AWESOME!

3] Visit sick people in the hospital. You will contribute a lot more to society by visiting than by reading the paper.

4] Say Tehillim! Talk to G-d!! ELEVATING!!

5] EXERCISE! Good for the body and the soul!

6] Many more examples - fill in the blanks.

But wait - If I don't read the newspaper I won't know what Obama is up to! Don't sweat it. He doesn't care what you are up to so there is no reason you should pay any attention to him.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Talk Can Be Toxic

"You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him."

"Some say our national pastime is baseball. Not me. It's gossip."

Erma Bombeck

I love being Jewish!

I love Jews!

But I have a problem. Let me share it with you:

It is universally recognized that gossip is NEGATIVE. BAD. HARMFUL. So why on earth do so many people gossip?! We Jews brought to the world the notion of the centrality of positive speech yet we are so busy talking about others that we forget.

A couple gets divorced chas vishalom. People HAVE to know - "What happened?" I ask "WHAT IS IT ANYBODY'S BUSINESS WHAT HAPPENED!!"

A man in the community goes to jail. EVERYBODY knows what he did. How do they know? Because people talk!

My wife and I have a rule at home. We don't talk about other peoples business, even if it is not, strictly speaking, lashon hara. [Full disclosure - I don't always keep the rule, but I am working on it.] If we have nothing to talk about [it hasn't happened yet], I can always tell her a Torah. Or, we can sit in silence. Silence is a prized Jewish value.

If you want to work on this - read on. You don't - stop here.

1] Stop reading newspapers, they are FILLED with lashon hara.

2] Stop reading blogs unless you are certain that the writer is KNOWLEDGABLE and CAREFUL about hilchos lashon hara [a RARE combination]. Many blogs whose author presents himself/herself as religious have lashon hara [and heresy and vulgarity and ...], so be careful.

3] Have friends who don't talk about others.

4] Have a daily seder in hilchos lashon hara. This is more important than [almost?] anything you do.

5] Accustom yourself to saying COMPLIMENTARY things.

6] Fill your heart with love for others. The root of lashon hara is hatred for others.

7] Keep busy. Busy people have no time for gossip.

8] Stop reading newspapers. I am not suffering from short term memory loss. I repeat myself for emphasis. I haven't yet read a newspaper free of lashon hara. Maybe it exists. But still, a gemara is better to read in any event.

9] Daven to Hashem to help you overcome this bad habit.

There is something that happened that prompted this post but I can't tell you as that will spawn more gossip.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Mazel Tov

A TREMENDOUS mazel tov to my Rebbe Shmuel Tzvi Rauch and Rebecca Stern on their upcoming wedding. R' Shmuel Tzvi is the nicest and most pleasant sweet tempered person on this planet and is my Rebbe in middos tovos. Plus, when we were together in Yeshiva he taught me Gemara. I don't know the kallah but she is clearly someone very special. How many other girls have a religious university named in their honor?! How many other girls are so pure and holy that R' Shmuel Tzvi would marry them. [The answer to both questions is - none!] She also once brought me something from the States that I needed for the 'kli' that carries my neshama. So I owe her my life.

Since I want to be at my Rebbe's wedding I am going to be in the US next week. For all those interested there is going to be a shiur for young women at 5:30pm next monday. The address is 115 central park west 72nd street, upper west side, apt. 9b ["Ehrman"]. The shiur is li'ilui nishmas anyone who comes, meaning that when you learn torah it elevates your neshama. Why wait till after 120 for an elevation of your soul when you can elevate it now?! Li'chaim to all!!:)

There may also be something for guys but in the meantime one of the girls organized this shiur, so that is what we are doing. If a guy wants to organize another shiur we can work it out.

My own opinion is that New York is filled with people much more worthy than I, so you can hear shiurim from them.

A vote for quality!

Love and blessings and hoping to see everyone ..... in Yerushalayim!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Angel Oh Angel!

"Angel, oh angel,
You're an angel,
be it so.
But is it really remarkable
to be an angel?

You're in heavenly heights.
You don't have to eat,
You don't have to drink.
Children you don't have,
Income doesn't worry you.

Contrawise, angel oh angel,
Come down on earth to us,
Be also in need of food,
Be also in need of drink,
And be a parent of children,
Then we will see,
Whether you are really an angel."

Rabbi Moshe of Kobrin

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pikuach Nefesh


A gitte voch!!:)

Thanks to C.A.F. for sending me to the site and encouraging me to publicize it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Finding Your Place

On Shabbos there is a prohibition not to leave the techum [two thousands amos outside the city]. Is Shabbos a jail?


Shabbos is like the world to come. When you get to the world to come you have arrived at your final destination and there is nowhere else to go! You are HERE where everybody wants to be so why go THERE?

It requires intense spiritual work to feel that you have arrived at your final destination and that there is no place else to go. If one achieves such a feeling then his Shabbos is a Shabbos. I have not a care in the world.


Good Shabbos beloved friends!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tzvi Moshe Kantor On Shavuos - DEEP!

Let’s talk a little bit about the centrality of Torah and the deeper essence of Shavuos.
There is a famous Gemara in Messeches Shabbos that talks about Kabbalas HaTorah. The Gemara says there that at Matan Torah, HaKadosh Baruch Hu took Har Sinai and held it over the heads of the Jewish people. He laid down a threat, an ultimatum. He said to them, “If you accept the Torah – great; if not, I’ll crush you with this mountain.” We accepted.
In the Kuntres HaBechira, Rav Dessler gives a definition to what choice really is. I only have free will, Bechira Chafshis when the options I have are reasonably close to one another. If I would Chas V’Shalom tell my son, ‘Go to school or I’ll break your nose’ it’s not much of a choice for him to pick going to school. Even though both options are there, I have in effect taken away his free choice. Based on this definition, God clearly took away our choice in the matter of Kabbalas HaTorah.

Rav Kook in his explanation of the aforementioned Gemara presents us with another fundamental Jewish-philosophical approach to the nature of choice. When possibilities are laid out before me, I am free to choose between those options. Those choices are the playing field on which I have the opportunity to achieve self-improvement or God forbid the opposite. That being said there is one factor that will always remain our of my control: I must choose. No matter where I am holding, regardless of the situation, I am constantly making choices. I can’t make a single movement without that movement being based on a choice to do so. Even in a moment where I decide to take the back seat and let others make the choices for me - that in itself was a choice!

He goes on to explain that in light of this concept, choice is intrinsic to the human experience. I didn’t enter life through my free choice; I didn’t choose to be here. I am here. At the exact same level of centrality I don’t have the ability to not choose, I must choose. I choose therefore I am. Bechira, my ability to make choices is Etzem HaChayim, it’s intrinsically part of my life. Inasmuch as I am alive, I am choosing.

The choices that I make and the results that they cause are exterior to me. Chocolate or vanilla (or neither) is a choice that is not intrinsic to my being and existence. That is because any time that I am choosing, I am choosing between factors that are outside of me. The fact that I choose is a must – that is me. The factors between which I am choosing are not me, they are my surroundings. The options are not nearly as relevant to me as the fact that I actually make the choice between them.

He develops the idea even further. The Torah is not an exterior factor to me. In the same way that we said that because they are so intrinsically part of me, life is above choice and even choice is beyond choice – so too Torah is equally essential and inherent to my being. Eitz Chayim Hi, inasmuch as I am connected to Torah, I’m connected to life itself! Torah is the central point around which my whole life surrounds. V’Chayeh Olam Nata B’Socheinu. My existence is predicated on the Torah, and the more I connect, the more I justify and concretize my life!
The opposite is also true. When I go against the Torah and Ratzon Hashem I am acting out of my nature. I am extending outside of my instinctive spirit. A lack of connection to Torah is a deficit in my connection to myself! A flaw in my relationship to Torah is an intrinsic flaw in me.
This is why Hashem took away the free choice when it came to accepting the Torah. Because if Torah acceptance remained at a level of free choice then it automatically remains at a level that is exterior to the recipients (those recipients being the Jewish people.) Hashem gave the Torah in a way that superseded exterior choices to illustrate the point that Torah is intrinsic to my life in the same way that my ability to choose is, and therefore (based on the formula above) Torah is as intrinsic to my life as life itself!

The Ramchal explains that at Har Sinai, more that getting the Torah, the Jewish people received their unique power to send shockwaves through the universe. The actions of a Jewish Neshama send very consequential ripples throughout the entirety of the created order. Our choices have powerful meaning. We’ll come back to this.

The Arizal famously says that the man is a mini, microcosmic world, and the world at large is really a big, macrocosmic man. Thus, what we say about man also applies to the universe as a whole. Putting all this together we can achieve a new, even more profound approach to the abovementioned.

There is another Gemara later on that explains another threat that Hashem gave the Jewish people, “If you accept the Torah, great. If not, I’ll return the world back to nothingness.” What’s the meaning here? Maybe we can suggest the same concepts apply here. There is a famous line in the Zohar that says “Istakel B’Oraisa V’Bara Alma” – Hashem looked into the Torah, and from it created the world. The Torah is the blueprint; it is the very fabric of reality. In the same way that negating the Torah is negating a central aspect of myself, so too, if the Torah on the whole is rejected, then by the power of the Jewish people the universal consciousness looses it’s innermost point as well! Take that out of the picture and the world automatically collapses on itself and returns to nothingness! A rejection of the Torah renders a personal and universal end!
What does this entire concept boil down to? My connection to Torah is not extending outside of myself, quite the opposite actually. My connection to Torah is a return to self. My relationship with Hashem and my connection with His Torah are central, intrinsic factors to who I am as a person. They are a part of me as much as my life is! Torah is the focal point of the universe and of my life. The more I connect to that, the more I give the world it’s centrality and the more I give my life meaning.

This is really the underlying theme of the Chag HaShavuos. Hashem is trying to convey to us exactly how important my relationship to Him is. This is it. It doesn’t get anymore important or central than this. My relationship to Torah and Ratzon Hashemare the central peg upon which my existence and the existence of the whole universe balances upon! The more I connect to Torah and through that to Hashem, automatically I am weaving together myself an the universe in total harmony.

To take this message even more down to earth: This whole spirituality thing is my life. It's just not something I associate with, rather it is something much deeper, it is the definition of who I am. So if someone or something comes along and tires to make me compromise that, they are trying to take my life from me! I am a vessel of Ratzon Hashem, and the whole universe is relying on me, so how can anything cause me to compromise that? This is my life! This is who I am!

B’Ezras Hashem we should be Zocheh to such a lofty outlook. We should come to realize exactly how crucial my Avodas Hashem is. It’s not something outside of me, exterior to me. It is me. It is the very makeup of the universe and my soul. The more we come in tune with such a perspective the more we come to harmonize everything. If we can do that there is no doubt we will live lives of meaning, fulfillment and happiness, moving to closer to the Creator and through that to the redemption!

Monday, May 17, 2010

More Than Just "Tradition"

There are two ways to approach the Torah:

1] Torah is NICE! It adds a spiritual dimension to my life, makes me a deeper, smarter individual and provides me with a solid framework within which to conduct my life. It is also very heartwarming to follow the long-standing tradition of my ancestors.

2] Torah is LIFE. When I do a sin my soul [i.e. my essence] dies a partial death and when I do a mitzva I truly live in the deepest and most profound way. The very thought of commiting a sin would be like thinking about being afflicted with a horrible disease. The prospect of doing a mitzva is at least as exciting as the thought of winning the New York State lottery. [BTW - If I did what would I do with all that money? Answer: Baruch Hashem I have a helpmate who would be able to think of a few ideas and happily relieve me of the responsibility of deciding (after giving at least 20 percent to tzedaka). THANK G-D FOR WIVES!!!]

Every word of #1 is true but unless one is living in the reality of #2 he is missing the point. "Kee heim chayeinu" - Torah is our life force. If I don't learn Torah as I should I am literally DYING, just not in the physical sense [even though at every minute NO MATTER WHAT we are literally dying as we slowly take a one way trip the the END]. When I open up my Bava Metzia or my Mesilas Yesharim I am injecting myself with eternal life, goodness and vitality.

Only this attitude enables one to fully appreciate what Shavuos is all about.

A gut yontiff, tyere zisse friends!!!:):)

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Many reasons have been offered for the reading of Megillas Rus on Shavuos. Here is one that I haven't seen anywhere: The Rambam at the end of Hilchos Chanukah teaches that the ENTIRE TORAH was given in order to bring peace to the world -דרכיה דרכי נועם וכל נתיבותיה שלום. The last mishna in Brachos learns from a passuk in Rus that there is a special mitzva to inquire about a friend's well being using Hashem's name "שואלים שלום חברו בשם". We learn from this megilla the importance of SHALOM. Shalom is so important that we can make use of Hashem's hallowed name in order to increase it. That is the purpose of the Torah!:)

May we be zoche to make peace between ourselves and others!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shiva Visit

Today I went to the Korn's to pay a shiva call. I really was at a loss as to what to say. Some people go to a shiva home and ask questions about the departed relative in order to satisfy their curiosity: "Was he sick?" "How long?" "Did you know he was going to die?" "Where did he go to college?" etc. etc. I fail to see how such questions help the mourner, especially when he finds himself answering the same question dozens of times.

So I sat there quietly and did what any grown man should do when he thinks about a relatively young, very special woman who died after a three year bout with cancer leaving behind a husband and six [five unmarried] children, parents and siblings.

I cried.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Happy Day And A Sad One

Today was a very happy day for me.

1] It was the day we commemorate the fact that we have Yerushalayim in our hands. I love Yerushalayim and consider myself indescribably fortunate to live in the Old City in G-d's own home, "Baruch Hashem mitzion Shochein Yerushalayim" - He lives HERE. Wow! He performed miracles so that we could return. We never forgot Yerushalayim so Yerushalayim never forgot us. "Racheim Al tzion kee hee BEIS CHAYEINU" - Yerushalayim is our LIFE and we merited returning. What a simcha!

2] I finished an article I was writing on the topic of zechiras amalek [and posted on YUTORAH].

3] I gave shiurim to both Yeshiva guys and seminary girls.

4] I learned a number of pages in Chezkas Habattim.

5] I attended the bris of a good friend.

And many many more good things. I davened, ate, slept, laughed, made others laugh, took a short blessed nap, played soccer with my son [in my living room:)] and the list goes on.

Today was a VERY sad day.

It is not my custom to be close to anyone's wife but my own, but I was extremely fond of Mrs. Korn. Every interaction we ever had was enjoyable. She was a very, very special person. What is far, far sadder than my own loss is thinking about her husband who is now alone and her children who are now orphans. I B"H still have a mother [for many many years to come in good health!!] so I don't really know what it is like to lose one but I did once have a dream about it. I can only say that in all of my years of dreaming of Nazis, Arabs and other "pleasant" dreams [I have had countless] I have never let out such blood curdling screams as the ones I let out in that dream.

May the Korn family and all of us know no more sadness and we should soon see a fulfillment of the promise of our Prophets that Hashem will remove the curse of death from our midst and wipe the tears off our faces.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chochmas HaRalph

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of leave the world a better know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Change Ourselves

“When we are blinded by anger and resentment, we have to come to the realization that the choice to look within yourself and realize that the only way we are going to change the situation is if we change ourselves. Only then will we see things in a different light and begin to make a real difference in our lives, relationships, and our circumstances.”

I have made this point on many occasions but like the Ramchal [whose yahrtzeit was yesterday - "yesod shebiyesod!"] says in the preface to his heilige Mesilas Yesharim, we must CONSTANTLY repeat well known ideas. People forget.

Every day when we make a cheshbon hanefesh [spiritual reckoning] the emphasis must be on how I can change MYSELF and not what my spouse/ parent/ child/ friend must do to change. I honestly believe that if this attitude would be adopted by the six billion temporary residents of our planet, most of our problems would be solved.



Friday, May 7, 2010

Go With It!

"Im Bechokosai Talaichu" - If you walk with my laws. Why "walk"?

Torah must be taken with us wherever we go!

Love and blessings to all!!:)

A blissful Shabbos!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Marriage - A Mathematical Anomaly

"In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two."

Erich Fromm

We hear a lot of talk about how when two people marry they become one. The holy books say it and frankly it is a beautiful idea.

BUT! And this is a big "but", people need space. One but still two. A person can say "We are one so what I want is what she wants". Or "How can he disagree with me - we are ONE?" Or "How can he need so much time for himself - we are a pair?"

Mistake! You ARE one - but remain two. Close as can be - while allowing the other person his or her emotional and physical space.

Love and blessings!!:)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Small Acts Big Rewards

From my dear friend Reb Shmuel's blog Tikkun. I sincerely thank him:)

My wife and I had a newlywed couple over as guests for the Friday night meal this past Shabbos. We knew the husband, who had grown up in my wife's neighborhood and went to the same shul as my father-in-law; an older bachur, this man just got married at age 32. His wife is a convert from the Philippines, and while we were at shul, she and my wife were shmoozing, and the conversation came around to the subject of why she converted.The story she told my wife is beautiful, and I believe that we have an obligation to spread the story around, for the valuable lessons inherent in it.

She grew up in a very religious Catholic home, where the catechism of the Trinity confused her greatly. One elder told her to "Pray to the Father", another told her "Pray to the Son", and yet another told her to "Pray to the Holy Ghost" [known in religious literature as "Casper" - Ally]. She was in dire straits, because she really wanted to pray - but she didn't know to whom she should pray! Realizing that the faith she had been brought up with didn't have the answers she sought, she began looking into other religions that were prevalent in her country. Islam had no sway over her; Buddhism didn't interest her at all ... She felt lost, and the constant pressure from her peers and family - who were convinced she had "the Devil" in her - began to feel overwhelming. As soon as she was able to move, after graduating from school, she headed for the United States.What a culture shock! The relative reservedness of the Philippines left her unprepared for what she encountered after moving to Bayonne, New Jersey. Suddenly, random people would stop her on the street and begin conversing with her; strange men would make advances, attempting to get her phone number, take her out for a coffee, and the like. The freedom, the provocatively loose atmosphere seemed to saturate everything American, and it took serious adjustment. One hot day, she was walking back to her apartment. On the way, she passed a young man dressed very strangely: he was wearing a black jacket and hat, and he had these funny strings hanging out of his pants. As the passed each other, she expected him - like so many other men in the past - to stop her, or get a good look at her in her very revealing clothes. To her astonishment, he averted his eyes, looking down to the ground as he hurriedly passed her. She couldn't believe it! To be sure, she turned around to see if he would maybe turn back after they had passed each other and sneak a peek, but as far as she could tell, he kept going on his way without stopping. In a place where everyone is looking to satisfy their urges, could such a thing be possible? Who was that boy? Upon returning to her apartment, her roommate informed her that the boy she had seen on the street was a Jew. Until that point, she had never seen a Jew, didn't know what a Jew was or looked like, knew nothing about Jews at all. What she did know was that she would have to find out more about these "Jews" and their intriguing ways. She began to ask around, and meet with Jewish folks and amass as much information as possible. What she discovered was a world of dedication, integrity, sincerity, and consistent commitment. She was hooked, and she began the long arduous process to convert to Judaism. Now, thank God, she is married, and beginning to build a Jewish home in the wonderful tradition of her adoptive forebears.

We simply do not appreciate the impact the slightest gesture, the smallest action, can make. I have no doubt that this Yeshiva boy does not know what he did, what an impression he made. And yet, when he gets "up there" (after 120, God willing), he is going to be presented with the myriads of z'chusim (merits) that will come about from every commandment and good deed faithfully fulfilled by this woman and her family, and he will receive credit for each one! One act of shmiras einayim (guarding the eyes) led a woman searching for God in the right direction. How many times are we presented with choices on how to behave, and we have no idea who is watching? It's a very important lesson for all of us to internalize, and may we all act properly at all times, whether or not anyone is watching!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Walk A Mile In His Shoes

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”

EVERYONE is working on their middos during sefiras haomer. Here is a practical idea.

Stop criticizing.

Your wife/husband/children/parents/friends etc. DON'T WORRY. Chances are that they criticize themselves enough. I probably criticize myself 290 times a day - before lunch. So I told my wife long ago - "You don't have to criticize me too much. I can save you the effort." I noticed that my inclination to criticize myself extends to an inclination to criticize my children. This is DESTRUCTIVE and what I consider my greatest fault among many. I wish I could stop already and I am going to try to stop TODAY.

If you stop criticizing others you will allow them to grow in a healthy way and your energy won't be sapped so that you can continue growing.

There is much too much too much criticism in our society and it ISN'T healthy. Not enough positive and an overabudance of negative.

Love and blessings!:)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Zohar And The Rambam

Did the Rambam ever see the Sefer "HaZohar Hakadosh"?

Here is a link to the Beis Dovid. In Simman Kuf Zayin and in the mafteichos at the end of the sefer he talks about it.

Interesting. [If anybody has other mekoros on the topic please tell me.]

As to the question he talks about at the end of the teshuva - we have an article on the topic here.

A HAPPY Lag Ba'omer!!