Thursday, July 29, 2010


Imagine if G-d forbid we would forget how to make kosher tefillin. Wouldn't we have such anguish that we couldn't lay tefillin?

Imagine if G-d forbid we forgot which day Shabbos was? How would we feel? Oh would we miss it!

What about the Arba minnim? Lets say we no longer had them and couldn't take them on Succos?

You get my point.

It doesn't bother me that all men don't wear tcheiles, but shouldn't they feel a sense of loss and pine for the opportunity to fulfill this mitzva from the Torah? [Full disclosure - I wear.]

It doesn't bother me that all Jews don't live in Israel - but it DOES bother me that people aren't bothered by the fact that they are not fulfilling this central mitzva. As the Torah tells us and the Ramban emphasizes, the Torah was given in order to be fulfilled in the Holy Land.

So if you can't do it - at least WANT it.

Love and blessings!:)

Talya On Blessing

This week, the second of the 7 Shabbatot of comfort in the weeks that follow Tisha B'Av, we read Parshat Eikev. Let us try to understand what message of consolation we find in our parsha. In the opening verses of the parsha, we find words of reassurance that if we keep Hashem’s mitzvot, Hashem will love us and bless us with all the things that He promises: And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will bless the fruit of your womb, and the fruit of your soil, our grain, your wine, and our oil…you shall be bless above all peoples: there will be no sterile male or barren female among you or your livestock (7:13-14).It becomes immediately apparent that there is a connection between the idea of bracha (blessing), and multiplying from the above verses.

In fact, Rav Soloveichik points out that the very first time we find a blessing in the Torah, this same association is found after Hashem creates man:Veyivarech otam Elokim lamor, pru u’revu u’milu et ha’aretzAnd G-d blessed them, saying, be fruitful and multiply and fill the land (Breishit 1:28) The Rav explains that the concept of a blessing is not necessarily to thank Hashem (as we have other words in Biblical Hebrew that mean to thank). Actually, to bless is to increase – when we bless someone with happiness, wealth, or children – we are hoping that these things are increased in their lives.If this is what a bracha really is, then we can understand why and how Hashem blesses us. But as Rav Binny Friedman and many others ask, how do we bless Hashem? What do we, or can we, increase when we bless Hashem in our prayers and our daily brachot on the food we eat?I think the answer to this question can be found in this week’s parsha, in which we find the source for the mitzvah we have to recite 100 blessings each day: And now, O Israel, what does the Lord, your God, demand of you (Ve’atah Ysirael ma Hashem Elokecha shaal me’amcha)? Only to fear the Lord, your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, and to worship the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul (10:12)From here the rabbis learn out that the word “mah” (what) should be read as meah (100), so the pasuk should read that Hashem only asks of us to recite 100 blessings each day.It is from these very same verse, from the words, fear the Lord, that the rabbis derive the basic principle: Hakol bidai hashamaim chutz me’yirat hashama'im - Everything is in the hand of Heaven except for the fear of the Heaven (Brachot 33B) There are several times in the Torah that we are commanded to fear Hashem; yet Chazal specifically chose this verse as the source for this mitzvah. We must try to understand what connection the rabbis want us to understand that links the obligation to say 100 brachot a day AND the notion that Hashem controls everything except our fear of Him? When understood in their deeper meanings, these two ideas are actually one in the same.The word yirah, fear, also means see. Chazal explain that to fear Hashem is really to see Hashem all around us – in our lives and in the world around us.And it is through the recitation of 100 brachot a day that we come to see Hashem in our lives. Rav Binny explains that when we bless Hashem, we increase His presence in this world and in our lives. It is through these brachot that we recognize that Hashem is in control, and we should be aware of this at all times of the day.This is precisely the reason the Torah commands us to bless Hashem after we are satiated from eating a substantial meal: And you will eat and be sated, and you shall bless the Lord, your God, for the good land He has given you…lest your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your God" (8:10-14)We must bless Hashem after we are satiated in order to remember that it Hashem who provides for us and satisfies us. When we are aware of this, we are able to see Hashem in all that we do and all that we have – and that is when we truly live our lives be’yirat shamaim, with fear of the Heavens.

At the end of the parsha, the Torah tells us that Hashem will bring us to “a land the Lord, your God, looks after; the eyes of Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year” (Devarim 11:12) We know that Hashem watches over all of the land in the entire world, so what do these words teach us? Rashi explains: tamid eynei Hashem Elochecha doresh otah – Hashem’s eyes are always watching over us in Israel. Hashem cares especially for the land of Israel. Hashem watches us because He loves us so intensity. While the Torah tells us to constantly be reminded of Hashem, we also learn that Hashem is constantly thinking of us - it is as though He cannot take His eyes off the Jewish people. This is highlighted in this week’s Haftorah, as we read the comforting words of Hashem to the Jewish people: Can a mother ever forget her child; cease to have compassion for him? Even if she could, I will never forget you! (Yeshaya 49:15) Hashem does not forget us, Hashem always wants to be closer to us – it is up to us to open our eyes to see Hashem and to open ourselves to feeling His presence in our lives and in so doing increase Hashem’s presence in this world.

Let us then remember Hashem as He remembers us; let us see Him as He sees us.Chazal explain that fear of Hashem is the first step towards our ultimate goal to love Hashem. With our understanding of yirat Hashem, as seeing Hashem in our lives, we can better appreciate how doing so can lead us to truly loving Hashem. In fact, Rav Dessler explains that one way in which we can fulfill the command to love Hashem is to contemplate all of the things that we are thankful for, all of the things that Hashem has given us in our lifetime.When we become aware of what Hashem gives us each day, we are automatically in awe of His endless kindness, and it is through our blessings that we bring Hashem into our lives – and ultimately it is these blessings that allows Hashem to shower more blessing on us and into the world. I hope that we can all work to see Hashem in our surroundings and in our lives. May we see and know all of the blessings that Hashem showers on us and bless Him in response. After all, as we learn from this week's parsha, the first step to being blessed, is feeling blessed. Have a blessed week!!


Tzvi Moshe: From Tisha B'av To Tu B'av - Bringing Back The Glory

Chazal have told us that the cycle of the Jewish calendar is a methodical process. Every step along the way, from one holiday to the next, is part of a systematic set-up. For example such literature has discussed the Pesach-Sefira-Shevuos sequence. The months of the year have been written about at length. The list goes on.

Perhaps we can take a moment to analyze the chapter of the year that we just experienced. We just left Tisha B’Av, the saddest day on the calendar; we cried and mourned over the Beis HaMikdash. And then less than a week later we entered intoTu B’av; hailed as the polar opposite – the gladdest day of rejoicing, a momentous occasion in the Jewish Gigul HaShana - cycle of the year.

How is this at all methodical? Does where is meaningful transition that we have been taught to expect. Perhaps with a more careful analysis of the components involved we will be able to walk away with not just a deeper understanding of the essence of these times, but also a more inspiring view of how to help perfect the future. Let’s begin.

The Gemara goes to great lengths to hide outward references to Kabalah, the Jewish mystical tradition.

That being said, from time to time , Chazal give us little tid-bits, small insights here and there to deeper, hidden aspects of the Torah.

One such example can be found in the Gemara in Bava Basra. There is a lengthy discussion there detailing various names, references and descriptions of the Beis HaMikdash. One important line is the following: Hod HaBeis HaMikdash - ‘When you see the word Hod (Glory) it means the Beis HaMikdash.

On the surface the understanding is very simple. The Beis HaMikdash is glorious, thus it would follow that scriptural appearances of Hod which means that exactly would be pointing to the Beis HaMikdash.
This is where the deeper understanding comes into play.

We know that Hashem operates the world through various Attributes, Names, systems of ‘behavior’ and the like – lots of terms are thrown around. We are also taught that these systems find their parallels in the way man functions within the world.

For example: Chessed is the attribute of extension. To give without limits – that’s an expression of Chessed. Gevura is another. The word literally means ‘Strength’ and we come to understand that it means strict judgment. Being very exact with my actions is an expression of that.

One such attribute that appears in mystical literature is the Mida of Hod - ‘The Attribute of Glory’. What is the power, the direction, of this attribute? Inner nullification. The ability to empty out one thing to make room for another. And this is the key to understanding “Hod Zu HaBeis HaMikdash.”

How is the Beis HaMikdash a manifestation of Hod? Well we know that nothing physical can survive without a spiritual essence. A prime example is the body. My physical body cannot survive with out the spiritual essence within – the soul.

The Beis HaMikdash accomplishes this role for the world. The Beis HaMikdash is THE location where physicality is opened up to let the spiritual enter within – thus sustaining its existence. This is the very core of what Hod is all about! The ‘Glory’ of the Beis HaMikdash is the role that it plays in making physicality ready to become a vessel that contains the spiritual. The Beis HaMikdash is the location of Hod in the world.

But obviously we see how Hod can be an important factor in Bein Adam L’Chaveiro - in interpersonal relationships as well. It is my ability to tap into my inner sense ofHod that allows me to remove myself of my biases and my prejudices and instead take the other persons feelings, his standpoint, his emotions and his background into account.

This gives us a deeper understanding of why the second Beis HaMikdash was destroyed via a lack of proper Bein Adam L’Chaveiro. If the Hod of the Jewish people is a state of break-down, then the Hashem’s obvious response would be to take away the Hod of the Beis HaMikdash.

So what’s the next step? Less than a week after we grieve the loss of Hod Zu HaBeis HaMikdash we enter into Tu B’Av - what the Gemara tells us is the quintessential day of love.

The Gemara in Ta’anis tells us that Tu B’Av was so joyous because bans that prevented tribes from intermarrying were lifted. And then when one specific tribe received it’s own personal intermarriage ban, that too was lifted on Tu B’Av. Not only all of that but on this day every year, the daughters of Jerusalem, the Benos Yerushalayim would go out into the fields dressed in white and matches would be made. Historically Tu B’Av has been regarded as the holy corresponding version of a secular holiday I’d rather not mention – but in our regards it is a day quite apropos and auspicious for engagements and weddings!

So now we return to our original question: What is the process of Tisha B’Av to Tu B’Av trying to teach us?

Now things should be coming together. Tu B’Av is the answer to the problems of Tisha B’Av! Hashem is trying to tell us that if we want to avoid all the problems of losing Hod Zu HaBeis HaMikdash then we need to work on our ability to love someone other than ourselves – for is there no more important ingredient to a healthy marriage; or any relationship for that matter, than Hod!?

It is through my ability to tap into, and fix my inner Hod that we leave a Tisha B’Av headspace and enter into a Tu B’av state of mind.

B’Ezras Hashem we should be Zoche to achieve such levels in our Bein Adam L’Chaveiro. Because this chapter of the Jewish calendar is teaching us that in order to make our way back to Hod Zu HaBeis HaMikdash we need to worry a lot about theHod in the way we treat one another.

If we can really try to remove and eliminate our biases and prejudices; when we can do away with our assumptions and single-sided, narrow-minded perspectives, when we can really dig deep and try to appreciate other people for who they are and where they are coming from we will be fixing our inner power of Hod. And if we can do that then there is no doubt that we will live lives of meaning, moving closer to the Creator and ultimately to Hod Zu HaBeis HaMikdash - the Redemption!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Please say tehillim for Chaya Meira Mindel bas Chava Golda who is having surgery today to remove tumors.

Tizku L'mitzvos!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Love Vs. Marriage

A quotable quote for tu b'av: "Marriage is not a love affair. A love affair is a totally different thing. A marriage is a commitment to that which you are. That person is literally your other half. And you and the other are one. A love affair isn’t that. That is a relationship of pleasure, and when it gets to be unpleasurable , it’s off. But a marriage is a life commitment, and a life commitment means the prime concern of your life. If marriage is not the prime concern, you are not married.”

Western Society is infatuated with being "in love" and we are products of this society.

And that - is where SERIOUS problems begin.

The Tikkun - a firm desire to COMMIT unconditionally to another person [preferably one who speaks at least one language that you speak] come heaven or high water. A willingness to look beyond the outer shell of falsehood in order to penetrate to the depths of who this person really is and appreciate his uniqueness.

PS - As I am typing this I am listening to R' Eitan Katz sing about being a yarei shomayim. Dearest friends, listening to R' Eitan's angelic voice [not that I've ever heard an angel sing] and knowing his sweet personality and genuine yiras shomayim makes me want to fear Hashem more [and hear more of his music]. So do me a favor, buy a cd of his for the car and blast it so that it penetrates the depths of your soul that wants nothing more than kirvas Elokim.

That was an unpaid for, unsolicited advertisement:).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tzvi Moshe On Tefilla And Nechama

When the Gemara connects different Parshios to their corresponding locations on the Jewish calendar we are told that now is the time for “Tzumu U’Tzilu”, Chazal are telling us that Tisha B’Av is called “Tzimu” - ‘Fasting’, and this week’s Parsha, Parshas Va’EsChanan is called “Tzilu”
– ‘Prayer’.

Two observations arise from this: the first is that there is a set, methodical process of going from Tisha B’Av to our Parsha. The second point is that our Parsha is embodied by the word Tzilu, our Parsha is the Parsha of prayer.

As an added layer, we know that Parshas Va’Eschanan is (mostly) always the week of “Shabbos Nachamu”, the Shabbos that we begin to feel consoled for the destruction of Beis HaMikdash that we mourned earlier this week. We know that the Torah reading of any given week sheds light on what is happening in the yearly cycle (HaKriya Meoreres Es HaZman), how then does Parshas Va’Eschanan (as we know it now, to be the Parsha of Tefila) serve as any Tanchumin, any positive pick-me-up to the bereavement we just experienced?

In order to gain clarity we need to get a few concepts clearly defined. In regards to Tisha B’Av; why are we sad? What did we lose when we lost the Beis HaMikdash? In regards to Va’Eschanan – the Parsha of Tefila; why is it the Parsha of Tefila, and what is prayer really all about? How do the answers to the first two questions give us anyNechama that the calendar demands? And on a deeper level, what is really the essence of Nechama?

And most importantly – what does this mean for our Avodah?

In order to truly answer for what we lost with the Beis HaMikdash we need to put into context what the Beis HaMikdash was. (This is the opposite of the saying that ‘You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.’ We are saying that you don’t know what is gone until you know what it was in the first place.) Let’s use the model found inHaLekach V’HaLibuv.

The Prophet Yeshaya tells us that Hashem calls the Beis HaMikdash His house of prayer. Like the Passuk says, (56:7) “Ki Beisi Beis Tefila” - for My House is a House of Prayer.
Time out. Is the Beis HaMikdash really a central location of prayer? Tefila was not the main objective of the Beis HaMikdash - Korbanos, sacrifices were!

So what is a Korban? The word is loosely translated as a sacrifice, but the root of the word is really in Karov, ‘Close’. Korbanos are the mode in which we make ourselves closer to the Creator of the world.

So if the main objective of the Beis HaMikdash was the Korbanos, and those were all about creating closeness with Hashem, then simply put the Beis HaMikdash was about closeness with Hashem!

So when we lost the Beis HaMikdash, we lost the world-center of closeness to God.
This now also gives us deeper insight into what prayer is. If the Beis HaMikdash is where Korbanos generated closeness to Hashem, and that place is called Beis Tefila, that would mean that the whole goal of all of Tefila, of all of prayer is not about presenting a wish-list to God, rather it’s about facilitating that which we now lack without the Beis HaMikdash: a concrete way of forging a relationship with the Divine.

This beautifully explains why every synagogue is called a Mikdash Mi’at, a mini-Beis HaMikdash! Because in essence, what we do in a Shul accomplishes the same thing that we did in the Beis HaMikdash; albeit on a smaller scale.

This is also explains the Gemara in Brachos that discusses an interaction between Avraham Avinu and Hashem. Hashem tells Avraham, “I’m going to give your descendants a temple, a place where they can sacrifice to me and become close to Me.” Avraham replies, “And what about when they are in the exile? How will the become close then?” God responds, “I’ll give them daily prayer.”

As we see, if we don’t have the Beis Tefila, at least we have Tefila.

On to our next question: What is the nature of the Tefila/Va’Eschanan relationship? Most obviously, we see straight out that the Parsha begins with Moshe’s prayer to Hashem, “Va’Eschanan El Hashem B’Eis HaHi” ‘And I (Moshe) implored (prayed) to Hashem at that time.’ Then, later on when wee see Moshe praise Am Yisrael - ‘Who is like this great nation?!” And what is so great? Moshe says that am Yisrael is great because “Ki Mi Goy Gadol Asher Elokim Krovim Eilav CaHashem Elokeinu B’Chol Koreinu Eilav?!” ‘Which nation has God close to them the way that God comes close to the Jewish people when they call out to them?’ (4:7)
We see yet again how we derive our closeness with Hashem when we call out to Him – through Tefila.

Later on we see another very interesting connection of Tefila to Tisha B’Av. Moshe tells the Jewish people not to despair in the exile, because you can seek out that relationship there (even without the Beis HaMikdash). U’Bikashtem Es Hashem Elokecha, U’Matzasa Ki Tidrishenu”, ‘And you will request (to be close to Hashem in the exile), and you will find Him because you looked (4:29). Moshe goes on to explain that once the Jews feel closeness, even in the exile, they will lose their sense of despair and be able to focus on the imminent redemption.
The implication is that prayer; in its truest sense – as relationship building, is the tool we need to feel Nechama in the exile. And thus we connect - on a basic level -Tzumu to Tzilu.

So now that we know that Tefila can get us Nechama we need to ask what is Nechama really all about?

We know from Reb Tzadok HaKohen MiLublin that the truest meaning of a word is the way that it appears the first time in Torah. So if we find the first usage of Nechama in the Torah we will be able to pin-point the essence of it is really all about.

So where is it? Back in Parshas Bereishis. At the very end of the Parsha all of mankind spirals into chaos and God decides to clean house. The Passuk says “VaYinachemHashem Ki Asah Es HaAdam”, ‘And God reconsidered having had made man’ So he decided to bring a flood.
The usage of Nechama here really has very little to do with comfort or condonlence. Hashem wasn’t mourning and then got over it. Hashem took a new perspective, He changed His Mind (Kaviyachol).

Based on the above Rav Avraham Tzvi Kluger Zatzal explained that Nechama isn’t about feeling better, Nechama is not about being distracted from the pain, it’s not even about ‘getting over it’. When a person is struck by a sad event, no condolences will make him feel better in the very moment – we know this to be true from our own lives. Nechama is the process that gets me to the point that I’ll be able look back at the same circumstances, without all the pain, rather with a new, deeper perspective.

And now we see how Tefila is the way we get there. We now see that Tefila is how I bring my self closer to Hashem. It’s not just a wish list – I’m supposed to pour out my very essence, the depths of my soul. To bridge the gap between my life and the Divine. Once I do that I attain the greatest Nechama of all – I see the world through totally new eyes. Everything has more meaning, everything feels purposeful. It’s through the closeness that I create with Hashem that I can totally flip my perspective on the world.

That’s the Avodah of the Beis HaMikdash, and it’s the way we achieve the same process even when we are in Galus and we don’t have access to the Beis Tefila. Because nowadays it is only through strengthening our relationship with Hashem that we will be able to empower ourselves to the point that we can overcome any sorrow, any trial, and any pain that comes our way.
Tefila at its very core is the way that build our relationships with Hashem, and it is this relationship that gives us the strength to see any difficulty through the eyes ofNechama.

B’Ezras Hashem we should be Zoche to see the world with such a lofty outlook. If we can invest in our relationships with HaKadosh Baruch Hu to the point that we become totally overcome with a sense of Nechama then it will surely give us lives of meaningand happiness moving closer to the creator and ultimately the redemption!

Talya On Prayer

Hi guys!

This Shabbat, like every Shabbat that follows Tisha B’Av, is known as Shabbat Nachamu - the Shabbat of comfort. The Haftorah we read brings comfort to the Jewish people as it tells of the prophecy of Yishiahu, as he assures the city of Jerusalem that the suffering will end and the ultimate redemption will come.We also read Parshat Va’etchanan on this special Shabbat. At first glance, it would seem that this parsha is not very comforting at all. In fact, Rav Binny Friedman points out that the parsha begins on a seemingly pessimistic note when Moshe Rabbeinu is denied his request to enter the land of Israel. If the prayer of greatest Jewish leader of all times seems to have been rejected by Hashem, then what hope to we have in hoping that Hashem will answer our prayers? If Hashem did not accept Moshe’s repentance and override the decree made against him, is there any hope that Hashem will accept our teshuva (repentance) either as individuals or as a nation? In what way does this move us as we head into the month of repentance and atonement in the coming weeks?

In order to answer this question, we must have a better understanding of what the Jewish perspective on prayer is.Perhaps we can start with an analysis of one of the most fundamental parts of our daily tefila that we find in this week’s parsha. It is the first prayer the Jewish child learns, and it is the sentence uttered by all Jews in their most trying moments: Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem echad Hear Israel Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One. Though we say these words when we are speakig to Hashem in our daily prayers, the words themselves are not addressed to Hashem. We need not remind Hashem that He is our G-d and that He is the singular most powerful force in this world. With these words that we remind ourselves of these truths each time we recite these words. When we pray, we do not tell Hashem anything that He does not already know. No matter how great an advocate we are for ourselves, there is nothing new that we can tell Hashem to convince Him to change His mind. In fact, if we believe that Hashem knows and does what is best for us, I am not so sure we even want to change His mind!What then are we doing when we sing Hashem’s praises and make our requests from him in our tefilot? And how do we accomplish this? The answer can be found in the following words that we often associate with the weeks surrounding Elul and leading into Rosh Hashana: Teshuva, Tefila and Tzedaka mavirin et roah ha’gezera Repentance, Prayer and Charity can override an evil decree Tefila, which we find in the center of this axiomatic sentence, is a synthesis of the two concepts of teshuva and tzedaka. By understanding the essence of teshuva and tzedaka, we gain a new perspective on the purpose of prayer as understood from our parsha.Teshuva (repentance) requires that we admit where we have erred and declare that we will work to change for the better in the future. Through this process of introspection we are changed for the better.

Tefila, Rav Hirsch notes, come from the root word, pillel, which means to judge. He explains further that the word le’hitpallel (to pray) in the reflexive form (as if to say, it is being done to the one who is praying), meaning to judge oneself. We see then that like the teshuva process, tefila is about introspection and self-evaluation – it is about taking a pause from our busy lives to reassess what direction we are heading in and whether we want to continue in that path or perhaps make a change.I think that this is at least one way that tefila functions as a comfort for us – in knowing that no matter how far we may strayed from the path we want to be, as an individual or as a nation, we always have the ability to stop and talk to Hashem, and ultimately to return to Him in this ongoing teshuva process of prayer. Tzedaka (charity) is ultimately about recognizing that all that we are given in this world is a gift from Hashem – and we are therefore moved to both literally and figuratively “pay it forward” by sharing it with those around us – using the gifts we are granted as Hashem would want it to be used. So too when we pray, we are reminded that Hashem is the ultimate provider, healer, and redeemer for us as individuals and as a nation. When we are reminded of this and accept this as true, we have changed ourselves for the better – and it is then that we merit that Hashem will provide, heal and redeem us.

On a second level then, tefila serves as a source of comfort for by reminding us that while our efforts are important, in fact, necessary for us to be successful, Hashem is watching over us and providing us with our every needs (as we bless Hashem each morning saying, sheasani kol tzorchi - you have given me all that I need). Perhaps this understanding of prayer as a means to change ourselves, rather than Hashem, explains the strange reaction of Moshe Rabbeinu after Hashem does not seem to answer his prayer to enter the land - we might expect that Moshe would be angry, frustrated, or sad at the very least. Instead we find that Moshe moves on quickly, telling the people right then that Yehoshua will replace him as the leader as they enter the land. Moshe understood that if Hashem stood by this decree that he should not enter the land, this would be best both for him and the Jewish people.We learn from Moshe that the “success” of our prayer is not measured necessarily by whether Hashem grants us our request or not. In fact, we find that Moshe seems to be strengthened and empowered with even greater faith and trust in Hashem after his tefilot, independent of whether Hashem granted his request or not - as he is suddenly moved to appoint Yehoshua and accept the decree. A person can and should feel close to Hashem after they have a meaningful prayer, regardless of what the response may be - because we know that after a meaningful prayer, we are changed for the better, we are closer to Hashem for it.Finally, there is a third and final comforting lesson about prayer that we learn this week.

Upon closer examination of the text, we see that Moshe's prayer was answered, at least to some degree. Moshe asked to cross the waters and to see the Land, while G-d refused the first part of the request, He granted the second: Hashem instructs Mosher, "Ascend to the top of the summit and see it with your eyes; for you shall not cross this Jordan."So often we focus on what we do not have and what Hashem has not given us, and we neglect to see that Hashem has answered our prayers. Even when we cannot get exactly what we thought we wanted, when we open our eyes, we realize that Hashem listened and heard our prayers.We do not have to tell Hashem to listen to our prayers – but perhaps we must be reminded to hear our own voices and listen to the words we are saying. I think this is why Shema Yisrael has become the quintessential prayer of the Jewish soul – because ultimately prayer is both about speaking to Hashem, but our words must penetrate our own minds as we say them. As we transition from the weeks of mourning, we are meant to channel the emotions we felt and be moved to repent-both as individuals and as a nation. As we do make this transition into a time of repentance, may we take comfort in knowing that Hashem always hears our prayers. May we learn to hear the messages and meanings of our own prayers and internalize the fundamental lessons we learn about prayer from our parsha - and through this may we merit that our prayers will be answered!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

This is the link to the video of the funeral of the daughter and father in law of Rav Klein Shlita lihibadel bein chaim li'chaim. When I was a single yeshiva bachur the Klein's took me into their home and treated me as one of the family.The Rebbetzin fed me and the Rav taught me. They would even take me on family tiyulim.

The purpose of the link is not to depress but to wake us out of our slumber, it sure did it for me. Chazal say that tears spilled for an good person are very valuable. It should be a zchus for the niftarim. Most of the eulogies are in hebrew, one is in english and one a mixture. At about the 57 minute mark is Rav Klein's eulogy. I would go there if you don't have time to watch the whole thing. Not for children or those who are depressed. They should watch a Schwecky concert on dvd.

We should be zoche to the geulah hashleima b'meheira.
Shiurim on marriage for Tu B'av, here, here and here [and there are quite a few more bs"d].

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Joy Of Being

A remarkable passage from Maran Harav Hutner Ztz"l!

פחד יצחק, ספר הזכרון, עמ' עא'- הלחץ הפנימי לעליה תמידית בתורה ועבודה ממעט את גודל השמחה האצורה בעובדה הפשוטה
של "היות יהודי", בלי מדרגות מיוחדות של עלייה. ובכל זה, הרי שמחת עולמים הכלולה בעובדה פשוטה זו צריכה להיות שופעת
בצינורי הנפש. ומבחינה ידועה, הרי היא תנאי מוקדם לעבודת השגת המדרגות. ונמצא מהלך כזה: שההתאמצות בהשגת המדרגות
מחלישה את השמחה של ה"מצב-בלי-מדרגות", בשעה ששמחה זו היא היא המקור הנאמן של התאמצות זו! והרי זו חובה מיוחדת
על העובד, שהרדיפה אחר השגת המדרגות לא תחליש בקרבו את השמחה הכלולה במצב של היות יהודי בלי מדרגות.

I could try to translate but it would do The Master an injustice. His point is that sometimes one gets so involved in trying to reach lofty, elevated levels of spirituality that he forgets to bask in the simple joy of being Jewish. In other words, instead of only taking pleasure in BECOMING we must learn to enjoy just BEING. This of course does not preclude a constant striving for greatness and heightened perfection. The foundation and basis of our desire to grow as Jews is the fundamental sense of unbridled joy that we are Jewish in the first place. Our society is so focused on achievement that we forget or are unaware of the profound message that the Rov conveys.

That is the nechama [consolation] after Tisha B'av. Nachamu Nachamu Ami - Be consoled be consoled! Why? Because "Ami" - you are MY nation and I love you.

Nifla mamesh!:)

From Faithfulness To Harlotry

"Aicha hayisa li'zona kirya ne'emana"- How could the faithful city [of Jerusalem] turn into a harlot. How is a city "faithful" or a "harlot".

Faith in Hashem does not merely mean that you believe He exists. It is MUCH more than that. Faith means to follow, to be drawn [hamshacha]. If you truly have faith in Hashem you follow and cling [dveykus] to him without letting go. Faith elevates you, as the pasuk says about Mordechai "Vayehi OMEIN es Hadasa" - he raised [omen from the word emunah - faith] Hadasa.

Jerusalem was connected, followed and was drawn after Hashem but She turned into a harlot. A harlot is connected to no one. The people of Jerusalem transgressed the 36 sins for which one is liable to kares, being cut off from Hashem. It is no coincidence that the gematria of aicha is 36. The Jews of Jerusalem who had previously been connected, transgressed the 36 sins which result in kares, being cut off, and Jerusalem thereby became as a harlot who is cut off. [Sfas Emes]

Our job on Tisha B'av is to RECONNECT, to be daveyk la'shem. That is true emunah. Every decision is life must be determined by one factor -what is the will of Hashem? As a person walks down the street he/she thinks "AIN OD MILVADO" - there is no other true existence outside of Hashem. When a person davens, he/she does so from the heart because Hashem is really listening.

I was once at a convention of Rabbis and educators [unrelated to any institution I am associated with] who were discussing ways to improve Jewish education. I was asked my opinion. I said that I think that the root of many problems is that there is a lack of awareness and connection to Hashem among the students. Yes, many learn and keep halacha but the sense that all that matters is the will of Hashem and Hashem as a living reality in the students life is missing. One example is the yearly fights that take place between children and parents about plans for the future. Rare is the student who says - "I would love to please my parents but ONLY if that is the will of Hashem. If I am told by my Rav that the Torah requires that I do otherwise I will follow the Torah." If more students would say this then there would be almost no yeshiva graduates in secular colleges [with co-ed dorms] and almost all would remain in Yeshiva for at least three years. The halacha is very clear about both issues, namely that in the case of conflict between children and parents with respect to Talmud Torah or matters relating to prohibited behavior one must not listen to ones parents wishes. [Of course the child must remain exceedingly respectful and try to bring the parent to his side.] Yet, I see that the demands of our physical world [parents, society, financial concerns] are often much more compelling to the student than the "abstract" will of Hashem. Hashem as a living being is in my experience almost never brought up in the decision making process. Very little emunah.

Well, I thought and still think I had a very good point and suggested that we talk more about Hashem. A Rabbi present then lambasted, castigated and berated me telling me that I am wrong. How could I say that?? [He is still mad at me to this day!!]

I say it because it's true. Rare is the person I meet who is really Hashem centered on a minute to minute basis. If people were, it would be a different world. Of course this writer makes no claims on being a true ma'amin, but as a resident of Yerushalayim the kirya ne'emama, I hope to become one in the future.

And I hope that my sweetest friends join me.

Love and blessings ובציפיה לגאולה השלימה

Monday, July 19, 2010

Here is a shiur given appropriate for Tisha B'av li'ilui nishmas Sara Bas Mori Vi'Rabi Harav Zev Klein Shlita. She died tragically last week at the age of 17 and ever since then I have plunged into sadness and my own feelings are NOTHING compared to how her family feels. May we see an end to the innumerable tragic stories we hear.

Many otherworldly stories have been told about her in the last few days and I will share one that should also be a source of merit for her if we take upon ourselves a kabbala: She was a very pretty girl. She told someone once that she would daven whenever she left her home that boys shouldn't look at her on the street!!!

So the kabala should be for women that they should dress in a way that won't attract the roving male eye and even add a prayer sometimes to that effect. And for men - NOT TO LOOK. It brings you down and contaminates you.

This will make the world a spiritual place which will cause Hashem to dwell amongst us. ולא יראה בך ערות דבר ושב מאחריך

When there is immorality - Hashem "leaves". When we are pure - He returns.

More to cry for..... and yet more.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

When It's Too Late

The following is my translation of an article in Olam Katan [a weekly Torah sheet distributed in shuls in Israel] written by a young man named Yehonatan who recently lost a friend named Alon Tabach at the age of 17 in a car accident.

Last week I understood the value of life. I understood that life is a gift and one shouldn't treat it lightly. How much time of my life have I wasted on absolute nonsense.

Last week I understood sadness. I understood that one can submerge into sadness, but one can also channel the sadness and be elevated to the stars.

I understood the value of love. I understood that you have to hug the person you love, to say a nice word even when it is difficult for you. When was the last time I did that? When did I really love?

Last week I understood the value of tears and singing from the heart. I understood that there is no better way to express the stormy feelings of the soul than by singing. Or crying. Or both.

I also understood the value of giving. I understood that the greatest joy is to give, not to take. Simply give of yourself. When is the last time I gave of myself to someone with a big smile on my face?

Last week I understood the value of memory. I understood that sometimes the only things that remain with us from a complete lifetime are memories.

Last week I also understood what it means to lose a dear friend. Ribbono Shel Olam, why do we only learn to appreciate something after we lose it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tzvi Moshe On Devarim: Your Right To Free Speech

This week’s Parsha begins the dash to the finish line of the Torah. Moshe Rabbeinu relates a complex narration that weaves together history, moral contemplation, Mitzva education as an eternally lasting ethical will. His own words become a book of Torah. Let’s examine this.

We can begin with the following question posed to us by the Midrash in the start of the Parsha. Way back in Parshas Shemos, Moshe has his first interaction withHaKadosh Baruch Hu. God’s presence appears in a burning bush and commands Moshe to go and take charge in Egypt and free the Jewish people. Moshe responds by saying, “Lo Ish Dvarim Anochi!” I’m not suitable for the job, I’m not such a good speaker, literally – ‘I’m not a man of words.’

But after forty years in the desert we see a dramatic change. Parshas Dvarim (note the same word that we just used above) begins, “Eileh HaDvarim Asher Diber Moshe” These are the words that Moshe spoke. – Wait, what happened? What happen to the speech-impedimental shepherd from Parshas Shemos? Now we see that Moshe is not just speaking, but he goes on and on for an entire fifth of the Chumash! What’s going on?

The Midrash answers that Moshe merited a relationship with Torah and that released his tongue from the hindrances that prevented him from smooth speech. How does that happen? Torah is a Tree of Life - Eitz Chaym Hu L’Machazikim Ba, and the Passuk in Mishlei tells us, Merapeh Lashon, Eitz Chayim - What heals the tongue? The Tree of Life…Torah.

This Midrash leaves us with the need to ask a few questions. On the broadest scale – what is man’s power of speech? What is the goal of language? On a more specific level, what about the Torah helps with speech? The Midrash showed that it does help, but it didn’t tell us how it helps. And what were the processes that had to be undergone by Moshe in order to me meritorious to his relationship with Torah that Midrash described?

To begin answering our questions we need to put the following concepts on the table. God created the world through speech, “VaYomer Elokim Yehi Ohr” And Godsaid let there be light – and there was light. God’s speech creates our physicality. TheTanya explains that as long as God continually sustains the Ma’amaros, the statements that he created the world with, things remain intact and in status quo. If Hashem were to, in whatever way we can understand, remove his focus from any statement that upholds any facet of the universe, that thing would simply cease to be.

(An explanation: God said “Yehi HaRakia Let there be a sky. God’s Mind (in whatever way we can understand such things) is unique. By merely keeping the term Yehi HaRakia in the Godly consciousness, it ensures that the sky continues to exist.)

So all those statements that keep the universe going; where are they found? Chazal tell us that God used the Torah to create the world. Through the statements of the Torah, Hashem’s speech, K’Vayachol, creation has a predication. Without it, everything returns to naught.
All the books of the Torah are pointing to this. Bereishis, the creation story. How was it done? Speech. Shemos? Names are what I call something. A name is an identity in speech. Vayikra? And God called to Moshe. Bamidbar? The very letters of the wordMidbar, desert, spell Midaber, a speaker (we will return to the massive significance of this later on). And Devarim? These are the things with Moshe said. Devarim meaning ‘things’ also spells Diburim, meaning speeches.
All of Torah is pointing to speech.

So with in mind let’s continue on to our first major question: What is the power of speech, the Koach HaDibur? Speech is a Levush of a Ratzon. In English, speech is a dressing up of an internal will. We choose to think in words, but we can think images, or even emotions and desires. (How do you think a baby thinks before it has command of a language?) Any internal will that we express outwardly will first come across as words that we choose to vocalize. But that means, on a deeper level, that when I express words outwardly, the original intent is contained within - as the very soul of the words I’m saying.

Based on Rav Moshe Shapiro’s teachings, Rabbi Eytan Feiner (of the ‘White Shul’ – what a holy Jew!) explains the following: Like we said, everything in the world is a manifestation of God’s speech, “Bi’Divar Hashem Shamayim Na’asu.” Every Davar, (literally ‘thing’) is a manifestation of a Dibur, a statement.

But really all Dvarim ‘things’, are destined to become MiDabrim, ‘speakers’. God created everything with a purpose, and He did so through speech. Speaking, as we mentioned above is a revelation of what’s going on internally. And what’s going internally are my wills, my desires and my wants. The essence of any given item (ie: the reason that God created it), which is the driving force behind the statement that created it will eventually express itself on the day that Hashem reveals how all things were always moving and making there way to reveal Hashem’s total and unique dominance over all facets of reality. Any given item’s revelation and expression of its essential purpose is the way that it transforms from a Davar to a MiDaber.
Torah, as we said before, is the source of all the ‘Diburim’ and ‘Ma’amaros’ that give existence its possibility to be. All things find their root there. And what is the place of the Torah? The Midbar - the desert.The word Midbar also spells Midaber - ‘Speaker’. What is a desert? A desert is a place that expresses nothing about its purpose in this world; it radiates no overt meaning whatsoever, stirring us constantly to contemplate its underlying purpose. In the vast expanse of the silent desert we see nothing- no trees, no rocks, no sign of life. Precisely in such a background are the Aseres HaDibros (Note the common root ofDibur and Davar) given. Chazal even go so far as to say that the Dibros of the desert, and our acceptance of the Torah, re-affirmed and fortified the Ma’amaros that creation was enacted with. And with our understanding of the role of Torah, this makes a lot of sense.

In the Midbar we are all ears, listening attentively to any Dibur produced in an environment that is almost entirely bare, providing no distractions to our captivated attention. That is why Chazal tell us that Torah is only accepted by one who makes himself Hefker free and undominated, humble and not overly directed by worldly forces – like a Midbar. The desolate Midbar is thus the purest Midaber, leaving us to wait until it finally breaks out in unbridled Dibur, revealing to us its true purpose and the abundant beauty that lies beneath its surface.
With all of this we now understand how the desert becomes the perfect background for the acceptance of the Torah. The desert, a place that on the surface gives us zero insight into the ‘bigger plan’ becomes a place of such introspection that it becomes the source for getting a full perspective on that very plan. Because the Torah is given in it.

Moshe, the humblest of all men, Hefker like the Midbar in the truest sense, the leader of the desert-generation – Is it any shock that he is Zoche, meritorious to a deep relationship with Torah? He is so deeply connected to the Torah that things said of his own volition, from his mouth via free will – the become an official part of the Torah! He is, Ke’ilu a guest writer for the Chumash!

Torah is the root of the essential purpose of anything, and if it is the source of the words that give life to all Dvarim, then Moshe who was Lo Ish Dvarim Anochi, (via the Torah) can undergo his metamorphosis into Eileh HaDvarim Asher Diber Moshe.”

It is through Moshe’s connection to the source of meaning in all things that he gained the ability to express the will of Hashem so accurately that his words became infused with the Torah itself.
Torah taught Moshe Rabbeinu how to talk.

What does this mean for you and me? All of what we are saying boils down to a very simple message. Inasmuch as I am connected to Torah and Ratzon Hashem I can understand myself, the world around me and my role in it.

The more I work on my relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu the more I will automatically fit into the natural rhythm of the universe. If I’m in tune with what Hashem wants from the His world then it becomes easier and easier to structure my life in sync with that regularity.
B’Ezras Hashem we should be Zoche to form such deep relationships with Ratzon Hashem. Because it is our connections to the Divine that give us focus, drive, purpose and the ability to tap into our Koach HaDibur - our faculties of self-expression to their upmost. If we can do this there is no doubt that we will live lives if happinessand meaning moving closer to the Creator and ultimately the redemption.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We Shall Forgive

“Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”

William Arthur Ward

There are some people who hold on to anger and resentment. This causes much emotional and physical suffering to the bearers. I wish that people would just let go of their negative feelings. The way to accomplish this is to ask forgiveness from those to whom we caused harm and to forgive those who ask us for forgiveness.

There is a bumper sticker that was popular in Israel that says [about the events surrounding Gush Katif] "lo nishkash lo nislach" - we won't forget we won't forgive. Putting aside for a moment the horrible, cruel injustice that was perpetrated against the sweet and precious Jews of Gush Katif, the sentiment rubs me as very non-jewish. Hashem forgives us for sins even worse that what was done there. Of course the perpetrators didn't ask forgiveness and the people are still suffering and therefore they don't deserve to be forgiven, but I would have preferred a bumper sticker that would have said - "Ta'asu teshuva" or something to that effect.

Our motto in life is "nislach" - we forgive! In that merit people will come together, fractured relationships will be mended and we will see the Geulah Hashleima -


Talya On Eichah

Hi guys!

This week we start the last of the 5 books as we prepare ourselves for the upcoming day of mourning, Tisha B'Av. In the beginning of Sefer Devarim we find the rebuke that Moshe offers the Jewish people, shortly before his death. Let us pay close attention to the eternal lessons that Moshe imparts for the Jews of that generation as well as for us in our times.

In recounting the events of the last decades of travails in the desert, Moshe says:Eicha eseh levadi tarchachem masaechem ve’ribchemHow can I alone carry your contentiousness, burdens, and quarrels? (1:12) The familiar word Eicha, is also the opening word of this week's Haftorah: eicha hayta lezona - how has she become a harlot (Yeshayahu 1:21). It is also the first word of the Megila we read on Tisha Be’Av: eicha yashva badad - alas she sits in solitude.The Midrash tells us that the use of the same word in each of these texts links the different events being described. More specifically, the Rabbis explain that the sinful behavior of the Jews in the desert set the Jews on a path for the Jews in Eretz Yisrael to become harlots, unfaithful to Hashem (as described in the Haftorah), and ultimately to the divorce, so to speak, between Hashem and the people with the destruction of the temple (as described in Megilat Eicha). There is further indication that there is a link between the mishaps of the desert and the eventual exile from the land. The Talmud tells us that on the day of Tisha B’Av, when the spies returned with negative reports about the land, Hashem declared that because the Jews cried for no reason, Hashem would give them a reason to cry on that day (Taanit 29a). Years later this was the day both Temples were destroyed. In reading these two rabbinic sources, we are confronted with a fundamental question that we must ask. It seems that the notion that the Jews were destined for destruction because of their sin in years past seems very antithetical to Jewish tradition. In a religion that stresses the idea of teshuva so strongly, it does not seem fitting that Hashem would decree a punishment that seems to be inescapable.I think a deeper understanding of these rabbinic texts must be understood. In linking the sin of the spies with the ultimate destruction of the Temples generations later, the rabbis are telling us that the same underlying root of the first sin in the desert caused the Jewish people to sin again once they were in the land if Israel.

Indeed we find that it is the same lack of faith and trust in Hashem that led the Jews to question Hashem in the desert at the sin of the spies, that caused the Jewish people to sin against Hashem during the First and Second Temple periods. When understood on this level, we learn an important lesson about the nature of sin and teshuva. If one does not address the source of the problem, the root of the sin, then one sin can be the start of a downward spiral, making it harder and harder to get back to where we first began. This is the intention of the rabbis in telling us that the sins in the desert ultimately brought about the exile generations later. This is why the teshuva process places such emphasis on introspection—it requires that we understand what caused us to sin—only then can we truly get back to where we were before we sinned.

So often when we make a mistake, we lose faith in ourselves, we convince ourselves that we are unable to raise ourselves up, and then fall down even farther. When we are unwilling to introspect after we sin, then we can have no hopes of accomplishing true teshuva. This is the true lesson of the word eicha in the 3 texts cited above. Rav Winston points out that if rearranged, the letters of the word eicha becomes ayecha, meaning where are you? This is the word Hashem asks Adam HaRishon after his sin in Gan Eden. Of course Hashem knew where Adam was – the question he was asking was for Adam to ponder – where did you go, Adam? With this one word, ayecha, Hashem reminds Adam that man is inherently good. When man sins, it is because he has lost touch with his true self, his inherent goodness. Often times, when we become out of touch with our inner voice that guides us in the right direction, we need an outside perspective to come along and remind us. Sometimes, without the voice of a teacher, parent, or a friend reminding us in which direction we really want to be heading, we may continue to take one wrong turn after the other until it is that much harder to get back to the path we really want to be on.

It is no wonder then that in this parsha we find the rebuke of Moshe Rabbeinu speaking of the past mistakes of the Jewish people. Moshe is the outside voice of rebuke, but also of reassurance - reminding us that Hashem gives us the tools to return to Him after our sins. We know that Moshe is not merely recounting the past mistakes of the Jewish people in the desert as a way to embarrass or disrespect them. In fact, Rashi points out that only the locations of their sins mentioned as a reminder of what they had done—in order to avoid retelling the sin directly and embarrassing the Jewish people. Moshe rebukes the people for their own benefit and growth—in order that they can mend their ways and learn from their past and strengthen their relationship with Hashem. On Tisha B’Av we will read Megilat Eicha and several other kinnot (lamentations) that recount the sins of our past and the consequences we had to face. As we hear these words, we must also be reminded of our inner goodness—our inherent ability to do good and to be good. We must recognize that the retelling of our past serves not simply to call attention to the bad, but as a reminder for us to return to our inner goodness. Chazal tell us that on Tisha B’Av the Mashiach is born and this most sorrowful day will be the most celebrated holiday of the year. It is perhaps only through this national mourning and teshuva process of reconsidering our past mistakes that we will be moved to uproot any doubts we have about Hashem as our Creater and sustainer. Just as important as it is for us to work on our emunah and bitachon in Hashem, let us also work to see the inner goodness in each other and in ourselves. Let us all try to find our inner voices and follow the path that we know deep down (some deeper than others, of course) we want to be. Finally, may we all understand the importance of looking out for one another and in the proper and respectful way that Moshe has modeled for us, may we serve as each other’s teachers and friends by helping to lead one another on the right path of growth and closeness to Torah and Mitzvot.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Special Mitzva Opportunity

A well-known tzaddik from chutz l'aretz who is suffering greatly has asked me to go to har hazeisim to daven at the Ohr Hachaim's grave on his behalf. For a number of reasons I will not do this but would like to find a substitute. If you are interested - please contact me as soon as possible -



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Finding The Well

“The desert is beautiful,” the little prince added.

And that was true. I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…

“What makes the desert beautiful,” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well…”--

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exup`ery (pp. 92-93)

The Torah was given in a desert and is learned in a Beis Medrash - literally a house of searching. The beauty of Torah is revealed when revealing Her hidden depths.

Love and blessings!!!:)

Beyond Death

"Hi Danny, how are you?"





"I just found out that I am terminal."

"OY!!! What do you have?"



"Life. I am alive and all living things eventually die."

"So what are you going to do?"

"Move to Israel."

"Does that make you immortal? On the contrary, to get there you have you to go through an airport TERMINAL?"

"Very funny. But in fact Israel DOES make me immortal. Every second I am living there I am fulfilling a mitzva. Plus mitzvos performed in the Land are worth infinitely more than mitzvos performed outside the Land. Mitzvos make me immortal."

"Are you a Zionist?"

"I don't even know what that means. I am a Jew!"

"What are you going to do there?"

"I am going to spend my mornings trading stocks and in the afternoon I am going to learn in kollel. You see, I don't want to die. Everything bodily and this-worldly dies. But matters of the spirit exist forever!! Torah is what brings Tchiyas Hameisim."

"So then why are you going to work in the morning? Just learn!"

"Ahhh, I considered that but my Rebbe shlita told me that it is a mitzva to work and support my family as long as I do it li'shem shomayim. Another eternal advantage to moving, is that my children will no longer be in the flesh pots of the diaspora and will live in a place of simplicity where, for example, a family of 11 often HAPPILY live in a small two/three bedroom apartment. Where women dress tastefully but very simply. No fancy-super-stylish-gentile-influenced garb. Where people live for the ideal of sacrifice for Hashem and His people. Where children never heard of pro athletes and actors and learn loads of Torah. My nephews in Israel are little kids and know all Tanach by heart and are working on Mishnayos now."

"Aren't there places like that in America?"

"Maybe, but America lacks one thing Israel has - kedushas Eretz Yisroel!!"

"C'mon, is it really as perfect as you describe?"

"No, nothing is perfect, but we try to get as close as we can. From a certain perspective, when striving for perfection - we achieve it. All Hashem asks for is our desire. To be perfect in practice is beyond us."

"Sounds great. Hatzlacha and L'CHAIM!!!!"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Excuses Excuses

Rav Amital z"l survived the holocaust and came to Israel, learned Torah and became a Talmid Chochom and Rosh Yeshiva. When he was young he would give classes on Jewish Thought in a religious high school called Midrashiyat Noam. One time a student asked him what he thought of what the bible critics claimed that the book of Yeshayahu is really two books. He answered that he doesn't know.

The Rosh Yeshiva of Midrashiyat Noam, Rav Yogel was listening behind the door and was very disturbed. Afterwards he confronted Rav Amital and said "How can you say that you don't know?!" Every Yeshiva Bachur who knows tanach well can refute the bible critics.

Rav Amital answered "This shmendrik doesn't really care about the book of Yeshayahu. He is just looking for an excuse to stop putting on tefillin and keeping mitzvos. I wanted to show him that I don't have an answer to all of the questions and yet I still continue to lay tefillin."

Sometimes I meet people with questions and instead of spending their lives searching for the deeper answers they go off to some college campus and with a great excuse in their hands [they have doubts] they proceed to immerse themselves in lives filled with licentiousness. If a person has questions it behooves him to learn Torah intensely until he resolves them. And if he does believe, then of course he should spend his life involved in intense Torah study.

[From the book Be'emunato]

We should be zoche VERY SOON to ubeela hamaves lanetzach and people should STOP DYING ALREADY!!

Big Yahrzeit

Zchuso yagein aleinu!!

Reb Shmulie inspires!:)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Miracle In The Making

To continue the subject that we have been discussing. On the surface there is one issue involved - are frum boys superficially choosing a spouse? The truth is that there is a MUCH more fundamental and basic issue at hand.

I really need a book to fully explain myself but I will try to summarize the "book" in this post. There are two basic paths in life. Path 1: Ruchniyus, purity, holiness, spiritual elevation etc. Path 2: Gashmiyus, impurity, filth, immersion in the more base elements of our being. As Chazal say in the Gemara - In three ways we are similar to angels and in three other ways we are similar to animals.

The question is, what do I truly value, the angelic side of me or the animalistic? As Rabbeinu Yonah says in his Shaarei Teshuva and Maran HaRav Hutner [zchuso yagein aleinu, mee yitein lanu tmuraso!] in the Pachad famously expands, a persons spiritual level is gauged by what he values and conversely by what he considers meaningless [koach ha'hillul neged koach ha'chillul].

Eliyahu Hanavi in the showdown at Har Hacarmel told the Jews - If Hashem is G-d, go after Him, if the Baal is god, go after him. THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND! Anybody who is middle of the road in his relationship to Hashem is not on Hashem's side. "Hashem Echad" means that there is no other REALITY! Any other considerations in life besides the will of Hashem are considered by our hallowed tradition nothing less than AVODA ZARA - foreign worship. If a person believes that anything matters other than Hashem he is completely out the bounds of acceptability on ANY level.

Hashem says in His Torah: "See I place before you life and good, death and evil" - There is NO middle ground. To use a sports metaphor - you can't play for two opposing teams at the same time.

To our topic. If a yeshiva bachur makes just about the most important decision in his life based on a girls dress size or her hair color and pretty eyes then this casts a pall over EVERYTHING that he does - his learning, davening, chesed etc. This means that what is dominant in his world view is his ANIMAL side. All of his ruchniyus is really gashmiyus.

And that, sweetest friends, is nothing less than frightening.

Please let me be clear. As one of my single friends says to shadchanim "I am not a picky guy , but I am a guy". A guy MUST be a guy. "Vi'anshei Kodesh tihiyun li" - the Kotzker says that means that Hashem wants Heilige MENTSCHEN, people not angels. The writer of this post is a male also, with all that this entails. When I was looking for a wife I certainly noticed what the girl I met looked like. Chazal already say that it is FORBIDDEN to marry a woman before looking at her. OF COURSE it matters! But that MUST NOT be the primary concern and a girl should not be rejected because she doesn't look like a prutza in Hollywood. There are many many fine bnos Torah who wouldn't get on a movie screen [nor would they want to] but who would make FABULOUS wives and mothers.

After 16 years of marriage [this month!] I can say that my wife's physical appearance has had a VERY MINOR influence on her my level of satisfaction and as time goes on I care less and less because I have learned that a wife's character and level of purity and many other qualities mean infinitely more that the chitzoniyus.

I hope people read this and take it to heart and give girls a chance. When you get to know and love somebody, something miraculous happens.

She becomes beautiful.

When I went to Rav Aviner's blog to copy the piece about face book I came across this letter.

At first, I wanted to get married to a beautiful woman. I was young and I didn't understand life. I didn't understand that grace is false and beauty is vain. I didn't understand that a beautiful woman is no help if she has bad character traits and that she will embitter my life. I learned this lesson the hard way. I met many young women for the purpose of getting married, who were externally pleasant, but did not have a good heart. I finally understood that inner beauty is what is important. Beauty is important – but inner beauty. I then got married to my wife, who is the most beautiful woman in the world in my eyes. Her good character traits give her incredible beauty. And the wonder is that this beauty does not wither with time. On the contrary, it grows. At first, I thought that I would love a woman who is beautiful. It then became clear to me that it is the opposite.

Because I love her, she is beautiful.

Love and blessings sweetest friends and PLEASE - continue sending feedback and pass these words on to others who may benefit from them.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Friendly Rebuttal

Sweetest friends, my dear friend and chavrusa, baal hablog hamifursam Tikkun, Reb Shmulie sent me this correspondence and agreed that I write it in his name as he stands behind what he said [by the way, one of the biggest problems of the internet is anonymity. People say the crudest, most disgusting and irreverent things because they are anonymous, but that is another story. The previous writer didn't ask to be anonymous but I chose to conceal his identity for obvious reasons]. This is NOT an personal attack. It happens to be that I learned bi'chavrusa with the first writer some years back and know him to be a fine mentsch [much better than myself for sure], sincere and a yarei shomayim who only means well. I cast NO aspersions on him. Reb Shmulie also doesn't know who he is so this is nothing personal [also Reb Shmulie, Baal HaTikkun, is also a fine mentsch and baal middos and only wants to judge Jews favorably].

Also, we don't have time to waste on pointless discussions. We want to make changes for the better [see the words of Rav Kook on the top of the page of Tikkun with which we at Mevakesh completely identify]. So I urge people to add suggestions for practical change. Yes, it will require effort but you might make the world a better more pure and spiritual place!

Reb Ally! I believe that your original post on superficiality was beautiful, concise, and matim for everyone to hear. The guest post (the e mail that your friend sent you), however, left me with the impression that the writer has an axe to grind with the frum community. I could be wrong, but after repeated readings, that's just the feeling I got. This is apparent in the amount of times he (I am using that as a generic pronoun, although it's possible that the e-mail was composed by a woman) stressed that this problem is prevalent amongst "very frum" boys, who are "often more crude with the details", and are "not much to look at themselves." The writer brings up several other anecdotes that all level a serious accusation against the frum community. It seems like your friend feels that he has broad enough shoulders to bear the weight of such a kitrug; his exaggerations of "hundreds of suggestions" shows that he is prepared to lump the entire frum community into one homogeneous group.

This is unfair, untrue, and wrong. I don't have enough time right now to provide a counter argument to every point your friend made, but I will try to address some of his statements. Beforehand, I want to repeat that I do agree that there is a problem with superficiality, the problem is worsening, and we need to increase our sensitivity towards this issue. However, it cannot be attributed to any one particular group or community, despite the fact that a certain community may have a seemingly larger nisayon. It's disgusting and, in my opinion, it's actually worse in our community than in the secular society.This statement is ludicrous. While the perceived hypocrisy is very bad, to say that our problems with tzniut and superficiality are worse than the world's own issues in not true. Worst case scenario, we are the same, which is very bad, especially taking into consideration that we are meant to be a Holy Nation, with an emphasis on control. But that is a separate issue; what we are discussing here is the actual obsession with looks, not whether we are living up to ideals vis-a-vis the gentile nations.

One very frum boy even told me his rebbe told him the more of shas he knew, the [here he used a word that describes the weather in August as opposed to the weather in May] the girl Hashem would send him. This anecdote can and should be disregarded as out of context and possibly fabricated. We do not know what the context of this particular bochur's conversation with his rebbe was, we do not know whether the rebbe said something else that was misinterpreted by the botcher (an all too common occurrence), and we do not know this particular boy's nisyonot. It is very possible that if this story indeed happened, maybe this boy struggled with his shmiras einayim, and this was his rebbe's method of attempting to mitigate that strong desire by encouraging him to focus on his studies. One can question the rebbe's approach (if it happened as described, I do take issue with it), but to imply that this is a hashkafah that is passed on within the four amos of halacha is baseless.

I know one girl who inherently distrusts all guys now based on the fact that she thinks they're all motivated by physicality only... Well, to a large degree, we are motivated by physicality. That is the source for most of our struggles to make tikkun while we are here in this world. "All guys"? Does that include her father and brothers? Her male teachers? Or maybe just the few 'jerks' she went out with......and says she doesn't think she'll be able to have a normal sexual relationship when she does get married because her distrust of frum men has grown so high. Something is wrong here. This particular girl sounds like she has much deeper issues than the regular girl. I am loathe to say it, but there is a distinct impression of some sort of history of abuse. If that is the case, she cannot be used as a proof that there is a larger issue here. How does she know what a normal sexual relationship is, and that she won't be able to have one? And why specifically frum men? Some very important details are missing here; to use this instance would be misleading and counterproductive.

I know another girl, frum and still is, who often dresses more promiscuously now than she once did saying, "I don't really believe in dressing this way but I can't change the society I live in and this is the only way I can really date men." While men's expectations of how women should look and behave do play a role in determining how a woman dresses, to place the blame squarely on our shoulders is unfair. Many sources, including the Orchot Tzaddikim already describe the woman's ta'avah to dress a certain way for attention from men and women. We see that this is a natural urge or inclination in women, free of any conditioning from the outside world, akin to the appetite for food, or any other ta'avah. This is further emphasized by the fact that there is no cessation of the halachot of tzniut when there are only women around.If she is dressing that way, it is likely that a significant contribution to that is because she wants to. She has found a convenient "hook to hang her hat on".

I know another girl, also pretty frum that says she wears tznius clothing but tries to make sure it's as tight as possible. This is what we call a setira minei ubei [inherent contradiction]: Tzniut is not limited to lengths and how much skin is covered. A woman can be sheathed from head to toe in material, but if it is sheer, if it is a certain color, or it is tight enough to see the form of the woman's body, that is as much of an issue as anything else. For example: pants are no longer considered beged Ish by any standards, but because they allow us to see the form of a woman's leg, poskim discourage (if not outright forbid) women from wearing pants.As Rabbi Ron Yitzchak Eisenmann says "If her clothes are tight enough that I can see 'In God We Trust' on the quarter in her pocket, it's not tzniut!" If we think women are not noticing the attitudes of the men, they are. It is having an incredibly destructive effect on b'nos yisrael. It is messing with their minds, their views of relationships, self esteem, affecting their values and the way they dress. Because most of these girls don't learn about society's take on body image from Face book, advertisements on city buses, and the world of academia, and non Jewish music... In closing, Reb Ally, I have to question whether you should have posted this e-mail; it would have been better to just give a summary. Such strong accusations are very serious...

Love and Blessings!


Tzvi Moshe On Spiritual Expansion

Parsha Matos is the Parsha that brings us in to the climax of the Three Weeks. The Three weeks are often called “Bein HaMeitzarim” meaning ‘Amongst the Constrictions.’ Being tight and restricted are the way that we sum up the weeks where we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and our current Exile.

We are about to enter the peak of Bein HaMeitzarim by going into the month of Avand the Nine Days which are considered even an even worse time for the Jews than the first segment of the Three Weeks.

But Av often has a title given to it, this month goes by the name Menachem Av, the word Menachem means comforting. What emerges is that built into the very suffering and pain of these days is it's comfort. Inasmuch as there is the suffering of Av, there is also the way out it.
Parshas Matos is the way we enter into this month of Chodesh Av and the Nine Days specifically. Perhaps we can show how the factor of the Menachem in Av is in our Parsha.

There are three major topics dealt with Parshas Matos. The first is Hafaras Nedarim, the way one is allowed to undo a promise. The second is the war with Midyan and the third is the request of the tribes of Reuven and Gad to settle outside the traditional boundaries of Eretz Yisrael on the other side of the Jordan River.

With a deeper look at these three topics we will hopefully come away with a unified theme of how do undo the constrictedness of the Bein HaMeitzarim.

The first issue is Hafaras Nedarim. The word Hafaras literally means ‘The untying of.’ Why does a vow need to be untied? What about a Neder requires that is be released?

Perhaps we can answer in the following way. Usually a person who swears something upon himself is restricting himself from a certain pleasure. “I swear not to eat X” or “I promise not to do Y.” This is a constriction of that person’s capabilities. Of all the things a person can do, for everything he swears off, he can do that much less. An oath is a restriction of possibilities. Through such a Neder a person is tying himself down. (We can already see how this is deeply related to the term Bein HaMeitzarim, the days of constriction.)

Based on the above we now have a better understanding as to why a promise needs to be untied. A Neder is binding by its very nature and can only be undone through some ‘releasing’ process.
So how does Hafaras Nedarim work? The answer is that a person, by no means can undo his own oath. Only another person can release him of his oath. Hafaras Nedarim is not a simple recitation or an incantation that can be done in private – it must be done at the hands of another person.

We will get into the significance of all this when we tie everything together.

The next topic in the Parsha is the war against Midyan. It’s brought down that the word Midyan spelled Mem, Yud, Daled, Yud, Nun finds its root in the word Din which is comprised of Daled, Yud, and Nun. What is Din? The term Din is an expression of Hashem’s attribute of firm justice, exactitude (it’s a real word) and constriction. The Days of Bein HaMeitzarim are days of extreme Din.

And how did the Jews fight against Midyan? With Pinchas as their leader. Where did we hear about Pinchas first? At the end of Parshas Balak, two weeks ago. Pinchas stood up for the morals of his nation and had to kill a prince because that was really the will of God. We are told by Chazal that at first he was looked down upon by the community at large for his actions. “Pinchas, you’re a nobody! Who are you to kill a prince?”

Only now after the relationship is fixed, and Pinchas is given the respect he deserves as a leader in battle can Am Yisrael fight against Midyan and the contractedness ofDin.

The third and final topic in Matos is the request of of the tribes of Reuven and Gad to settle outside the traditional boundaries of Eretz Yisrael on the other side of the Jordan River. How does this merge with our theme?

The land of Israel is sometimes referenced to as Eretz HaTzvi, ‘Land of the Deer.’ Why? Because in the same way that deer is said to have extraordinarily stretchable leather hide, so too the borders of Eretz Yisrael can expand greatly. Borders by their very nature are constrictions, but these two tribes, who sought to settle outside of the normal boundaries were trying to stretch those borders.

But Moshe gives them a stipulation. ‘You guys can settle on the other side of the river, but you must help out the other tribes in their conquest before you can settle down.’ Meaning, in order to expand the borders of Eretz Yisrael you have to do your part in your relationship with the rest of Am Yisrael.

In order to put everything together we need to consider the following.

My sense of ‘Self’ extends as a result of my relationships. Why? When I care about something or someone, I invest mental energy into that thing or person. I take time and effort, in essence I take my soul and I extend it. Through that which I care about I can extend myself, the ‘self’ that is me, past my physical body!

This is the meaning of the unified Jewish people being K’Ish Echad, as one, macrocosmic man.

When every Jew cares about every other and they begin to really care and act on behalf of each other, then each Jewish soul can mesh bringing thecollective soul of Nishmas Yisrael to its full-flourishing glory.

On the other hand, it is the melt-down of interpersonal relationships, a collapse of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro that is the most constricting thing for the soul of a person. Without a relationship I’m left all alone. There is no greater sense of ‘Self’. There is none of the aforementioned growth at the hands of caring beyond my personal desires.

We know that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed at the hands of Sinas Chinam, baseless hatred.

It was the destruction of relationships that set the stage of the tension and restriction for Bein HaMeitzrim.

But Parshas Matos shows us the way out. Do you want to undo the chains that bind you (Hafaras Nedarim)? It’s only through the hands of your relationship with others that it can happen. Do you want to be victorious in your push against the harshness (The battle against Midyan)? Success only comes if we fix our Bein Adam L’Chaveiro. Do you want to expand past the restrictions that confine you (The extension of Eretz Yisrael)? It can only happen if you take responsibility for your brethren.

In conclusion, how is the Menachem built into Av? Through the message of Matos. It is only through an extension of self through and our work in Bein Adam L’Chaveirothat we will overcome the Bein HaMeitzarim of these tension filled days.

B’Ezras Hashem we should be truly Zoche to extend beyond ourselves into a realm of true relationships that will help us overcome the constrictions of Bein HaMeitzarim. If we can really work on this then there is no doubt that it will lead us to lives offulfillment and happiness bringing an end to this bitter exile, drawing us closer to the Creator and ultimately the redemption BiMeheira BiYameinu, Amen!

Talya On Jewish Unity

Hi guys!

This week we conclude Sefer Bamidbar with parshiot, Matos and Maasei, in which we read about the last moments before the Jews finally enter the land. During this time in the Jewish calendar, as we mourn the exile of the Jewish people from our land, it is of utmost importance that we try to internalize the lessons the Jewish people had to learn before the very first conquests and entry into the land. Parshat Matos begins with the very detailed laws of nedarim, vows. Immediately thereafter, the Torah tells us about the fulfillment of Moshe’s promise to wage war against Midian, as well as the request of Reuven, Gad and half of Minasheh to settle on the opposite end of the Jordan River.

At first glance, the first verses seem to be unrelated, even random in their juxtaposition to the rest of the prasha. Many commentaries ask why the parsha begins with the seemingly random set of laws. Rabbi Avraham Gordimer suggests that the openings verses regarding nedarim come to set the tone for the remainder of the parsha. The underlying theme throughout the parsha, he suggests, is the importance of honoring one’s commitments and being true to one’s words. Perhaps on an even deeper level, this week’s parshiot are about loyalty and commitment, not only to Hashem, but also to each other. Let us try to understand how the other instances we find in the parsha relate to this theme. Immediately after Moshe is commanded to wage war against Midian, the Torah tells us: So Moses spoke to the people, saying, "Arm from among you men for the army, that they can be against Midian, and carry out the revenge of the Lord against Midian" (31:3) Moshe knew that once the Jews were victorious against Midian, they would conquer the land and his death would follow shortly thereafter (as this would mark the last of his missions in leading the people into the land). Nonetheless, being a man of his word and with extreme dedication to follow the will of Hashem and to the Jewish people, Moshe quickly and valiantly led the nation to battle and ultimately to victory against Midian. Understood from this perspective, Moshe essentially sacrificed his life for the sake of the Jewish people.

Given Moshe’s character of loyalty and dedication, it is easier to understand his response to Reuven, Gad, and part of Menasheh when they asked to remain on the other end of the Jordan River: And Moshe said to the people of Gad and Reuven, "Your brothers will go to war and you will remain here?" (32:6) Moshe could not understand that these tribes would consider not assisting their brethren in the conquest of the land! Moshe therefore demands of these tribes that they first help the other tribes conquer the land. Rav Goldvicht points out that Moshe repeats this condition twice before acquiescing to their request. Again, we see the value Moshe places on the responsibility each person has for the rest of the Klal.Given this emphasis on loyalty, responsibility and unity among the Jewish people at this time, it is puzzling that there seems to be such an emphasis on the individual tribes within the Jewish nation. As Rav Binny Friedman asks: why suddenly, as the Jews prepare for war, is there an emphasis on tribalism—rather than unification? Rav Binny explains that in the word mateh, meaning tribe in our parshiot, can also be translated as a staff—a stick that is often used for support (or in modern Hebrew a staff of individuals who work together). From here we learn an important lesson about unity within Klal Yisrael. In Judaism, neither tribalism nor individualism is the antithesis of unity. On the contrary, so long as each individual or tribe views itself as part of the whole, as responsible for the whole nation, then the entire nation can be successful.

As we read Parshat Maasei, which deals with the inheritance each tribe will receive when they settle in the land, we see the Jewish people modeling this type of unity. We know that one of the greatest sources of conflict throughout history is battle for land—we see, however, that among the Jewish people at this time, there was no jealously and certainly no violence between the tribes as they each accepted their portion in the land. In their division and separation from each other, the tribes actually demonstrated perhaps the greatest unity they had throughout the desert experience. As the Jewish people settled into the land, each mateh, or tribe, was on its own but was also part of the greater whole. The tribes understood that they each had a unique role within the Jewish nation and in the land of Israel. Moshe taught the Jewish people that each tribe can be, and must be, reliant on the others and responsible for one another. They could appreciate that each of the other tribes had a different, but perhaps equally significant place within the land. In this way they were united not in spite of their differences, but because of them. Rav Binny writes that while Judaism values the individual and promotes tribalism to an extent, there is a time and a place in which we must each serve a greater good and be willing to make sacrifices even for the sake of our extended family—klal Yisrael. This was the lesson Moshe Rabbeinu not only taught, but also modeled for the Jewish people in leading them in battle against Midian so that the Jews could enter the land as quickly as possible. As Rosh Chodesh Av approaches, we, too, must internalize this message whole-heartedly. We know that the Jewish exile from Eretz Yisrael was caused by sinaat chinam—baseless hatred. Chazal explain that the ultimate redemption and return to the land, therefore, must come when we collectively rid ourselves of this baseless hatred, by demonstrating love and kindness to one another.

In his recent book Future Tense: Jews, Judaism, and the State of Israel, in the Twenty-First Century, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes the following poignant words: Jews have been conquered by some of the greatest empires ever to have appeared on the stage of history, yet each has disappeared, to be remembered today only in museums. The Jewish people outlived them all. They could not be destroyed by others, but three times they almost destroyed themselves. The only people capable of threatening the future of the Jewish people are the Jewish people. It is often easier to ridicule and resent others for being different from us, be it in our religious practices or otherwise. I hope that in light of what we learn this week as we conclude Sefer Bamidbar, we can try to understand and appreciate that Judaism is comprised of individuals and groups that may be different and separated from one another either in ideology, practice or even geographically speaking. It is these differences and divisions that actually allow for the true unity of the Jewish people. I hope that we can all appreciate and internalize the lesson Moshe Rabbeinu taught us. As we will recite upon finishing the Sefer this shabbat, CHAZAK CHAZAK VE'NITCHAZEK - Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!

May we find that through our achdus (unity) we can come together to depend on each other, to grow from one another, and to strengthen as individuals and as a nation!

A bad marriage is bad for your health. FASCINATING!

The Ten Plagues of Facebook

[Rav Shlomo Aviner, Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Pinchas 5770 – translated by R. Blumberg]

1. Face Worship. Facebook, the Book of Faces, could have been a blessed endeavor, strengthening family and social relations with the help of a social network. Unfortunately, however, it is a monster that has attacked its creator and become an impediment with its worship of faces. Man is not a face but a soul, which is revealed through its good character and good deeds, not through outer appearance, or through various artificial shows that one puts on for the sake of photo-ops. “Grace is false and beauty is vain, but the woman who fears Hashem – she shall be praised” (Mishlei 31:30). One time our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, was invited to an exhibition devoted to his father, Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook. He said, “People will see his books and his pictures there, but they won’t see his fear of G-d there. I’ve got no business going.” How the soul suffers, seeing itself shoved into a corner, alone and scorned – and the individual being judged by his picture.

2. Exposure. A person has to be humble and modest, and not to expose personal details for all to see. The Jewish People are humble. A Jew does not have to be so extroverted, to reveal his personality and emotions to all, but only to his true friends. One time, Prime Minister Golda Meir was interviewed following the Yom Kippur War, and at the end was asked: “What do you feel personally?” She answered, “What I feel personally, is personal.” A person has to be a bit introverted. Moshe placed a veil over his face. Likewise, one should not peek with curiosity into the lives of others, and certainly not into the pictures of women, all the more so if they are immodest.

3. Advertisements. Facebook is sponsored by advertisements, some of which are disgusting, full of offensive language and sexual immodesty, provoking people to commit acts that are base, coarse and forbidden.

4. Crime. Since the information is out in the public domain and available to all, all sorts of unsavory people take advantage of it for evil: identity theft for the sake of extorting monetary contributions; for convincing people to come to rendezvous where they will be robbed; as well as the use made by various types of sexual perverts; for sending junk mail, and for racist groups that encourage hatred.

5. Addiction. Facebook is the fifth biggest cause of addiction in the world. 400 million people in the world are addicted to it, and 2.5 million in Israel use Facebook. 75% of youth are regular users. Facebook addicts can spend 4-5 hours a day on it.

6. Loss of time. Time is one of the most precious things in life. A person thinks he isgoing into Facebook for a moment, and he may be stuck there for long hours.

7. Superficiality. It’s all so shallow, so full of nonsense. People pursue that nonsense, and wallow in it. Pictures and videos, talkbacks and cheap blogs, and blogs responding to blogs. People engage there in superficial discourse, in nonsense, emptiness and shallowness, and they become shallow themselves. It’s a vicious cycle, and it gets worse.

8. Exhibitionism. A person develops a longing to be seen by others, to share glances and find favor in the eyes of imaginary, virtual friends. He constantly updates his personal profile in order to increase his popularity. He strikes an alluring pose and has his picture taken in order to draw attention to himself. He becomes enslaved to finding favor in the eyes of others, and to being seen by them.

9. Disintegration. Time disintegrates. Life disintegrates into grayish nonsense. One’s personality disintegrates. True, quality friendships disintegrate into virtual friendships.

10. Loss of friendship. Friendship is something vital to a person. Friendship or death! Loneliness is an awful sort of wretchedness. Therefore, one is supposed to acquire for himself a friend (Avot). Facebook instead supplies addiction to a shallow kind of socializing, engulfed in meaningless excitement, in virtual friendship. Pictures no longer reflect life. They have become the essence of life. It is the end of friendship. Facebook is a social network devoid of friendship, because a true friend is like a war buddy – someone ready in every situation to offer help and support. Certainly social connections are good, but that’s not a real bond, but the destruction of the concept of friendship. Facebook also leads to the disintegration of the family. 20% of divorces are because of Facebook and the corrupt chats that go on there. True friendship is face to face, not face to screen or screen to face. Therefore, please harness all your courage and cancel your membership in Facebook. Be brave! At first you will have 4-5 days of feeling dazed, but after that you will feel wonderful pleasure and supreme freedom.

SWEEEEEEETEST FRIENDS - I couldn't have said it better myself!!!

On that note - if you have something to share, either in the area of Torah, mussar or chassidus, feel free to email me and if I think it is fitting for Mevakesh Lev, I will publicize it to a wider audience. I would like to thank my friends Tzvi Moshe Kantor and Talya Wolfson who generously share their beautifully written and inspiring divrei torah weekly. I especially enjoy when Talya begins "Hi everybody, hope you had a great week!!" The exclamation points and exuberance are SOOO Mevakesh Lev. And Tzvi, well he is my chavrusa who LIVES the words of our Holy Teachers.

Love and blessings and see you - in real life, not facebook!!!!:)

I was asked to link this site.