Monday, February 28, 2011
The next day Rav Shapira was at an important Rabbinic meeting when his secretary received a phone call. Rav Gustman was on the line and said that he needed to speak urgently to Rav Shapira. The secretary explained that Rav Shapira was busy and he will relay the message. Rav Gustman was insistent that it was urgent so the secretary called Rav Shapira out of the meeting.
When Rav Shapira picked up the phone Rav Gustman told him that he has a NEW pshat in the Rashi they were discussing yesterday!!
Rav Shapira returned to the meeting and told the Rabbanim that Rav Gustman is right. There is really nothing more urgent than a new pshat in Torah.
זכות הצדיקים יעזור ויגן ויושיע!!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Do you love him?
You are a Charedi Jew. You see a man with a big knit yarmulke "packing heat" [a pistol bi'laz]. You know that his kids go to bnei akiva and that he has a special krias hatorah every Yom Ha'atzmaut.
Do you love him?
You are a Lubavitcher Chossid. You see a Jew who you KNOW would never learn the Tanya. He doesn't believe in it. His Rebbe is the Vilna Gaon.
Do you love him.
You went to YU and believe in Torah Umadda. You see a Jew who you know believes that the ideal Jew doesn't go to work rather he learns his whole life in kollel.
Do you love him?
Do different Jews really love each other or do we just talk about it?
Do the SAME type of Jews love necessarily love each other?
Avraham Avinu was the paradigmatic Ba'al Chesed. Sodom was a society of anti-chessed. Avraham davened that Hashem should save them.
When I review 100 times I get smug and feel that I don't need to learn anymore. I MADE IT! Reviewing the 101st time shows that I realize that there is still more to accomplish and I haven't yet arrived at my spiritual destination.
"Amalek" is composed of "amel kuf" - I toiled 100 times [kuf is in gematria 100]. An Amalekian attitude is "I don't have to grow any more."
[Rav Ephraim Eisenberg ztz"l, Rebbe in Ner Yisroel in the name of his father in law Rav Gifter ztz"l Rosh Yeshivas Telz.]
Thursday, February 24, 2011
In the beginning of the parsha, Moshe lists the various “goods” and materials that were donated for the building of the Mishkan - ranging from gold, silver, copper, wools, skins, spices, and finally the shoham stones that were used for the ephod and choshen. It would seem that items are listed in descending order of value—except for the fact that the most precious shoham stones are found at the bottom of the list.
In grappling with this difficulty, the Ohr Hachaim suggests that the value of the shoham stones was actually diminished because of the way in which they were donated by the nisi’im (princes of each tribe), as described in our parsha:
And the princes brought the shoham stones and filling stones for the ephod and for the choshen (Ex. 35:27)
Rashi, quoting Rav Natan, explains that the word nisi’m is notably written without the letter yud to signify a deficiency in the princes, who had declared that they would donate whatever was still needed after the people made all of their contributions.
Rav Nevenzhal suggests that a fundamental truth is to be learned from their mistake. Their promise to supply that which is not provided by others suggest that they believed that Hashem needed their actions and deeds—as if there was a void that only they would be able to fill. In truth, however, Hashem is not lacking, Hashem does not need anything from us at all—not even that which He commands of us. Our desire to satisfy our need to serve Hashem should drive our actions, rather than the presumption that we are fulfilling the needs of Hashem by performing the mitzvot.
The Ohr Hachaim also suggests that the demotion of the shoham stones to the bottom of the list may be because these materials were the easiest to come by and required the least amount of preparation. Indeed this answer may not be completely unrelated to his above explanation--as it is when we are motivated simply by the desire to fulfill a void, the way in which we do it is less significant to us. However, when we are motivated by our own desire to give, and to connect through that act of giving, we are ready and willing to put much more energy into the act itself.
Indeed, Rabbi Tatz suggests that the princes’ donation was an act of tzedaka – an act of providing what is absolutely needed. Admirable though this may be on some level, the Maharal explains that such a person is not truly driven by the desire to give. In contrast, the rest of the Jewish people performed what the Maharal would call an act of chessed - going above and beyond what was actually needed:
And they spoke to Moses, saying: "The people are bringing very much, more than is enough for the labor of the articles which the Lord had commanded to do (Ex. 36:5).
The fact that they brought even more than was necessary suggests that they were driven by their own need to give rather than their assumption that Hashem needed what they could provide. As would be expected, their innate drive to serve Hashem is demonstrated not only in terms of monetary and material donations, but also in how they devoted their time and energy to the building of the Mishkan:
And all the women whose hearts uplifted them with wisdom, spun the goat hair (Ex. 35:26)
In trying to understand the unusual terminology, asher nesa'o leebo (whose hearts uplifted them), the Ramban explains that these women did not have the training nor the natural talent to perform this task. In contrast, the women described as the wise hearted woman (35:25) were skilled and capable of performing and providing all the wool that was necessary for the Mishkan. Rav Yosef Nechemia Kornitzer notes that it was the intense desire of the Jewish women whose heart lifted them up—literally their desire to serve Hashem moved them to take action—regardless of the fact that their contributions were not entirely needed.
Rabbi Tatz points out that there is a paradox and a challenge that falls upon every Jew—and that is to be commanded to give, to do for others, but at the same time feel the innate and instinctive drive to want to do so. This conundrum is highlighted, but also perhaps solved in our parsha. In the way they carried forth the instructions to build the Mishkan, the Jewish people model for us how we can accomplish this lofty goal—by giving not only what was required, but to go above and beyond—perhaps if we can follow this lead, in going beyond what is demanded of us, then we can be reminded that the true reason for performing the mitzvot--be it giving to Hashem or to the people in our lives--should not be solely because we are commanded or expected to so, but because we truly gain from the act of giving.
Finally, I think it is worth noting that this lesson is perhaps highlighted in the mitzvot that are associated with the upcoming holiday of Purim. We are commanded at once to provide tzedaka to the poor (matanot le'evyonim), but also to give to friends and family (mishloach manot). Indeed the command to give both to those who need and those who do not need our gifts reminds us that we must not perform acts of generosity as a means not only ensure that others' needs are met, but also should satisfy our inherent need to give to others. And so, may we learn this lesson from the generosity of the Jewish people in our past, and may we tap into our own innate desires to serve Hashem and to help others. It is when we are truly driven by a desire to give and to do that which is commanded of us that our actions hold the most value--it is when we see the true value in the act itself that the deed becomes most meaningful and makes the greatest impact both on ourselves and those around us.
Shabbat Shalom, Taly
Esther didn't tell where she was from.
Rochel was called a tznua. Why?
She didn't tell Yaakov that she had given the signs to Leah. [See megilla 13b]
To be modest means NOT TO TALK!
I love Jews. But Jews talk! In the religious community it seems that so many people know what is going on in other peoples lives.
Example: Young people seem to know who is going out with who, who broke up with who, why, etc. etc. You have no idea how much pain is caused to people because others talk about them.
What is the crazy yetzer hara to read newspapers? To find out what is going on in others people's lives.
SWEETEST FRIENDS - LET US TAKE UPON OURSELVES TO TRY NOT TO TALK ABOUT OTHER PEOPLES BUSINESS.
May the zchus of Esther and Rochel guard us.
Love and blessings!!!:)
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
"Danny, your mom and I love you very much and are worried about your future. You must live in the REAL world. You are living in a bubble. How are you going to live like this? It is a fantasy world you are in! Therefore mom and I have decided that we really want you to spend AT LEAST the next five years in Yeshiva studying Torah and devoting yourself to spiritual pursuits. Otherwise there is no way you can merit true life in this world and the next. Eternity is a LOOOONG time. The only way to get it is with Torah and mitzvos. This world is alma di'shikra - a world of falsehood. The next world is the true world and you must prepare. At some point you may have to go to work to support your family but in the meantime I will fully support you so that you can become a talmid chochom. This world was created according to the gemara so that we have yiras shomyim. This world of falsehood distances you from Hashem and kedusha!! You need to escape to the pure world of Torah and yiras shomayim. We hope you understand and feel as we do. To paraphrase a quote I saw recently - "How sad to die and realize that you never lived."
If someone wants to post a YouTube clip exploring the ins-and-outs of his or her toenails, that wouldn’t necessarily bother me, per se. I may even find myself smiling as the homemade ‘documentary’ navigates through some hideously fungal terrain. Who knows? The video may even go “viral,” in which case these toenails would undoubtedly be asked to make a guest appearance on Good Morning America and CNN. Absurd as it sounds, I, personally, find this trend quite humorous.
It’s not a tragedy to laugh at ourselves and the plethora of rather strange human beings that swarm around us. I enjoy nonsense. It makes me laugh. I admit it. Ironically, it’s not the nonsense that I find unsettling. It’s the sense – or, rather, the countless opinions of how to define that term – that has emerged evermore disturbing. Allow me to explain… Of late, the word “comment” has developed new connotations. There was a time, not too long ago, when the function of ‘commentary’ served mainly to express, explain, or expound. But that has all changed.
An ever-expanding, massively consuming, rapidly transforming entity (colloquially referred to as: “The Internet”) has unleashed a whole new genre of commentary, more akin to ammunition than expression. At your own risk, scroll through the dizzying assemblage of comments and replies that erupt in clusters at the end of practically any article, video, or digital what have you. Take your pick. Log on. Log in. See what you find. It ain’t pretty.
What it usually looks like (to quote a few real life samples):
Comment #63 (posted 21 minutes ago) ~“…this article is a waste of space, written by a hypocritical, useless, pig, fool!!!”
Comment #57 (posted 2 hours ago) ~“…whoever posted comment #44 is a fanatic creep! Keep your comments to your sick, demented self!!”
Comment #51 (posted 3 hours ago) ~“…brainless and grossly repulsive!! These posts make me VOMIT!!” We’ve all seen it. We’ve all cringed. Comments have, indeed, degenerated into a hotbed of untamed aggression. Regardless of what the article or video features, the real drama awaits not in the action but in the re-action. Just scroll down. Behold the hostile array of rebuttals and retorts. The animosity is palpable. Articles have, thus, been reduced to appetizers. The main event waits in the ensuing peanut gallery of 'post game' confrontation & condescendence. Apparently, it’s not content but context that serves as bait for so many frenzied commentators. The ability to express opinions, the worldwide exposure this ability now entails, and the anonymous mask behind which such opinions unleash, are three very dangerous ingredients to mix. Such a tumult of collective negativity was, presumably, unforeseeable when the ‘Post Your Comments Here’ feature originally surfaced as a cyber-norm. Forums and comments were intended to encourage open discussion and a healthy exchange of views, not opinionated jabs and painfully brutal knocks. Nonetheless, a newfound surge of worldwide aggression has erupted in the form of so-called “commentary.” These observations are by no means novel. Writers, reporters, and community leaders have been bemoaning this sorry state of affairs for years. This article is not merely meant to expose the trend, but, rather, to appreciate its impetus. What exactly is driving this blatant phenomenon?
There are two answers to this question. One is conscious, the other less so. One justifies and reinforces the trend, the other undermines and reassesses it. On a superficial level (a level within which our defense-friendly consciousness usually feels most comfortable operating), harshly confrontational comments can be seen - and most probably are seen by their authors - as a courageous campaign for some “truth” (note the lowercase t). Many comments have a dogmatic tone of authority and absolute infallibility, as though the buck starts and stops here. But the buck hardly stops there, as one strong-minded declaration of “truth” never ceases to ignite an equal and opposite counter attack. A domino effect unfolds, and - 250 comments later - the lowercase “t” of the so called “truth” has become evermore fragmented, while the truth-bearers now seem more interested in wrestling their newfound opponents than honoring the position they supposedly sought to proclaim. Although they come to enlighten, they remain to fight.
Which brings us to the real dynamics at play... Humans crave attention. When malnourished, our quest for attention morphs into aggression (of the active or passive variety - whichever floats your boat). While babies enjoy the luxury of ranting, raving, kicking, and screaming, adults need to find more sophisticated, less obvious methods of grasping the notice of their surroundings. Insecure people (among whom, myself) often use insult and instigation as their megaphone, while opinionated convictions serve as their vindication. But strip the comments of their supposed ‘causes,’ and you’ll discover a vulnerable voice, subtly pleading from the subconscious chambers of a frail and fragile self-image. I want to assert myself. I want to feel strong. Please notice me. Please respect me. This is, in essence, what comments are truly proclaiming. The Internet has clearly affirmed the adage: “it’s a small world, after all.” But with a smaller world comes an exponentially smaller sense of self. This subtle shift in perspective just may transform our disgust into pity. Today’s “commentators” are not commenting. They are pleading. Desperately begging for a voice. And, upon honest reflection, aren’t we all?~Now, for the main event…
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Continuing our thought from the previous post. A person has the capacity to justify ANYTHING. Even the Nazi's ym"sh claimed that they were cleansing the world of vermin [i.e. the Jews]. Regular people justify their own [albeit less extreme] behavior.
That is why one MUST learn mussar and be constantly vigilant to make sure that his behavior is in line with the will of Hashem.
PS - Please daven for Chaya Mushka Bas Gila Elka! Thank you.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Sweetest friends - we are all products of our environment. It has been biologically proven [studies cited in the book "How We Decide"] that we decide based on emotion and NOT based on logic or our rational faculties. This means that the vast majority of people are not really looking for the objective truth but what "feels" right. The mind is not a JUDGE that determines choice but a LAWYER that does everything he can to prove his "client's" [i.e. what the person instinctively wants] postion.
I have learned that to try to get someone to think differently from the way they are used to thinking is virtually impossible.
Example: All modern orthodox American kids are pre-programmed to go to college. When being challenged as to why they are going all of the sudden they will think of reasons for the first time and do everything they can to justify their position. If one reason is rejected ["For parnassa" - "Yes, but you can make parnassa without college"] then a new reason will be presented. The explanations are only to prove an already foregone conclusion - he is going to college.
A Charedi boy from Bnei Brak has been programmed that he will never step foot in college. When being challenged he will similarly try to prove his position although it is likely that he never thought about it before. But no matter what arguments are presented it is almost certain that he will come to the same decision he started with.
Lesson - We should try to STEP OUT of our societal influences and try to determine logically and rationally the will of Hashem. Just because we were brought up with certain beliefs DOES NOT mean that they are true. One way to do this is to go to a Tzaddik with a question and decide in advance that you will do whatever he says [an American often has trouble with such an attitude but that is the Torah way "Vi'asisa kichol asher yorucha"]. Another is to learn Torah and Mussar and think what you would tell SOMEONE ELSE in a similar situation to yours. That way it is much easier to be objective.
Too many of our attitudes are determined by popular culture. We must cleanse ourselves and immerse our bodies and souls in the unadulterated will of Hashem. It will be a tragedy to meet our Creator after 120 and find out that our lives were one big mistake.
How sad to die and find out that you never lived.
Love and blessings!:)
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Q - How do I know he [she] is the right one for me to marry?
A - You don't.
Q - When will I know?
A - At least a year after the marriage. Often many more years after marriage.
Q - So why should I marry him?
A - Because Hashem wants you to marry.
Q - But why a specific guy?
A - Because you see that he has qualities you admire, shares with you a vision for the future, you enjoy his company, you have heard good things about him from his Rabbeim etc., and there is a physical attraction.
Q - For how long should I date?
A - Not too long. It is against halacha. Long enough to determine that you have raw materials to create a beautiful, harmonious marriage. Then marry him and get to work [not at speech therapy or special ed. but at marriage]! But don't rush into it either. Speak to someone you trust before making the decision [but not a single friend].
Q - Why can't I know he is the right one for me before marriage?
A- Because after marriage many things come out that were unknown before marriage. Like how you act when you are pregnant or how he acts when you wake him up for minyan on Sunday and he wanted to sleep [not telling you to do it - just giving an example]. Or how he is as a father. Or how many dishes he does. Or how often she criticizes you AFTER she made the catch.
Q - Let's say I see after being married for a while that I made a mistake?
A - We don't believe in divorce unless there are extenuating circumstances. Make it work. Treat him like a king and see what happens. Take responsibility to make the marriage work. Go for counseling. Do anything to create a lasting bond. We don't throw away spouses like an old useless gadget.
Q- What if there is abuse?
A - Go to the police and get out of there.
Q - Is that all?
A - No. There is lots more but I try to keep things concise. I may add that you really need to daven that you get the right one. Marriage the Torah way is the most beautiful thing in the world - if done correctly.
One of them: Don't appreciate what you have because you might not have it tomorrow.
Appreciate what you have because you might not have it in five minutes from now.
Besoros Tovos to all of my beloved friends and may Hashem give comfort to all those who so sorely need it.
I would therefore like to register a protest for Kavod Hatorah and ask that before one takes issue with people much greater, one must first reach their level of scholarship and kedusha. Then, with great humilty he may express an alternative opinion.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
How can we take a moment of inspiration and carry it with us forever? There’s no way to relive that time, there’s no way for us to look back and recreate the feelings we shared to the same extent which we originally felt them. The ONLY method is to incorporate the actions which those few precious moments inspired, IMMEDIATELY into our lives, and perform them EVERY second of EVERY day. We must not say to ourselves that we’ll be better tomorrow, or that we’re going to start this at some other point in time, because that’s just the yetzer hara trying to prevent us from reaching our true potential. Now what happens if we slip (chas v’shalom) and make a mistake? Does it make us hypocrites? Aren’t we human, and therefore not perfect? Or is all of this the yetzer hara talking? I once learned that as Jews, we must be L’mala min ha’teva (above nature). So if it’s human nature to make mistakes, we are supposed to be “above” that.
In my humble opinion, one of the keys to being successful in maintaining a certain level of yiddishkeit and always carrying those moments of inspiration with us is that we must always strive for perfection. We must always take those philosophies, which we hold as truths, and walk with them at all times. Even if we do commit an action (chas v’shalom), which would go against a torah principle, we must realize that we can still strive for that level of perfection. We can still do teshuva, recognize our wrong, and IY”H, turn it into a growing experience. We can’t let anything bring us down. We must daven to Hashem for the motivation to keep growing, and to never allow any stumbling blocks get in our way. With that said, we must also remember that we can’t just sit idly by, because Hashem only helps those who help themselves. Therefore, we must ENSURE that we only put ourselves in situations where we can succeed and grow. We know where we should and shouldn’t be going, and where Ben/Bat-Torah’s belong.
IY”H, the combination of davening, the willingness to make sacrifices, only putting ourselves in proper situations, and Siyata D’Shmaya, will allow us to use everything in this world to serve Hashem, to always strive for that level of shleimus, and to never stray from His ways!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Parshat Ki Tisa begins by concluding the section of instructions for the building of the Mishkan and its vessels - the kiyor and koetoret. The parsha ends with the Sin of the Golden Calf and its aftermath. And, in between these two fundamental sections of our parsha, we find several seemingly isolated verses dealing with the command to keep Shabbat. In trying to understand the seemingly random placement of the command to keep Shabbat, we will learn a profound lesson about the underlying theme of the parsha and a deeper insight into essence of this special day. The Torah tells us:
V’ata diber el bnei Yisrael lamor: ach et shabtotai tishmoru
And you, speak to the children of Israel and say: only keep My Sabbaths (Ex. 31:13)
Rashi explains that a fundamental and practical lesson is being taught from the juxtaposition of Shabbat and the Mishkan—the building of the Mishkan and all its associated activities must cease on Shabbat. Indeed we derive the 39 melachot that are forbidden on Shabbat from the work that was required to build the Mishkan.
While this certainly explains the connection between the Mishkan and Shabbat on one level, I believe there is yet another layer of understanding to unravel in discovering the inherent connection between the Mishkan and Shabbat.
The deliberate choice to include the kiyor and the ketoret in this parsha suggest that these two vessels tell us something about the connection between the Mishkan and Shabbat. these two vessels demonstrate the two fundamental ways in which the Mishkan served as a sacred space for the Jewish people to relate to and serve Hashem. The first way in the Jewish people elevated themselves through the work of the Mishkan was through the daily rituals - reminding them and enabling them to constantly strive to reach higher and higher levels of closeness with Hashem. The kiyor, the washbasin was used by the kohanim to purify themselves each morning, particularly highlights the need to start each day with the acknowledgement that there is always room for purification, elevation, and growth in our relationship with Hashem.
The second way in which the Mishkan enabled the Jewish people to get closer to Hashem was through the sin offerings, which enabled them to reconnect with Hashem after distancing themselves with their transgressions. The Lebuvitcher Rebbe explains how the ketoret symbolizes this aspect of teshuva associated with the Mishkan. After the sacrifices were brought, there remained a foul odor that lingered in the Mishkan. The ketoret served to get rid of this foul odor - to destroy the last semblance of sin for which the korban was brought and thereby signifies the completion of the teshuva process and the reestablishment of the relationship with Hashem.
With these insights we can, perhaps, better understand the connection between the Mishkan and Shabbat. In some way, the sacred space of the Mishkan is replaced with the sanctified time offered to us every week. In essence, Shabbat enables us to connect to Hashem in the same two ways symbolized by the kiyor and the ketoret.
Just as the kohanim started each day with purification and cleansing, we start each week with the recognition and readiness to look ahead in how to better ourselves and come closer to Hashem. Shabbat is the foundational start to our week - it is the source of all bracha for the coming days - it is a pause from our busy week to reassess and reestablish our connection with Hashem.
At the same time, Shabbat is the culmination of the week – as we say each morning in the Song of the Day - hayom yom rishon l’Shabbat (today is the first day towards Shabbat, and so on). Like the Mishkan, Shabbat serves as the antidote to our sins. Indeed, the word Shabbat comes from the same root word as teshuva (repentance). Though we no longer have the opportunity to bring sin offerings, we still have the space for teshuva in our week. Shabbat is a time to evaluate what perhaps we could have done better in the week’s past and hope to do better in the week to come. Just as the ketoret signifies the final step in the cleansing process, Shabbat provides us with the opportunity to achieve teshuva in its fullest sense.
Rabbi Akiva Tatz speaks of this double role that Shabbat plays - as Shabbat comes at the start of the week - reminding us of the ever-present opportunity we have to come closer to Hashem in the future that lies ahead and Shabbat comes at the end of each week - providing the unlimited opportunity to do teshuva for our past.
Rabbi Akiva Tatz speaks of this double role that Shabbat plays - as Shabbat comes at the start of the week - reminding us of the ever-present opportunity we have to come closer to Hashem in the future that lies ahead and Shabbat comes at the end of each week - providing the unlimited opportunity to do teshuva for our past.
There is, however, a notable difference between the Mishkan and Shabbat. In parshat Teruma, Hashem tells the Jewish people: Build me a Mikdash and I will dwell among you (Ex. 26:12). We must take the first step in creating the space for Hashem to invite Him in to our lives in order to establish the connection. In our parsha (31:13), Hashem tells us the purpose of Shabbat is:
There is, however, a notable difference between the Mishkan and Shabbat. In parshat Teruma, Hashem tells the Jewish people: Build me a Mikdash and I will dwell among you (Ex. 26:12). We must take the first step in creating the space for Hashem to invite Him in to our lives in order to establish the connection. In our parsha (31:13), Hashem tells us the purpose of Shabbat is:to know that I, the Lord, sanctify you (mekadeshchem). On Shabbat, Hashem enters our space, sanctified us, regardless of what we do or do not do. Shabbat is a time that Hashem reaches out to embrace us - it is up to us as to feel the proximity of His presence and the outpouring of His love each Shabbat. It is this love that moves us to teshuva that almost automatically takes place when we experience Shabbat in the right way - when we feel the closeness to Hashem, we will be moved to do teshuva, to come closer to Him out of the love we already feel on Shabbat day. Perhaps this is precisely the reason that we stopped building the Mishkan on Shabbat - in order that we have the opportunity each week to do teshuva in its highest form - teshuva out of love.
Finally, it should be noted that this concept of teshuva m'ahavah is strongly associated with the month of Adar. Based on the words of the Arizal, Rabbi Eliezer Miller notes that during this month "Hashem opens up his wellsprings of generosity and love for the Jewish people. This, in turn, inspires us to express our love towards him." Accordingly, the Sfat Emet writes that in the month of Adar we are better able to do teshuva from a place of simcha and ahava. This is as true for the month of Adar as it is every Shabbat of the year. And so, let us feel this outpouring of love during this month, and extra embrace each and every Shabbat. May we recognize the step closer that Hashem takes towards us each Shabbat, and may we be moved to take the steps forward and closer to Him for the coming week. May we recognize Shabbat as the sacred space in our week to return to Hashem each Shabbat - but not to the same place we were the week before, but may find ourselves being elevated higher and higher with each passing week!
Shabbat Shalom, Taly
OY, Reb Dale you speak emes....
Several years ago, a rabbi from out-of-state accepted a call to a community in Houston , Texas .
Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change.
As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, 'You'd better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it'. Then he thought, 'Oh, forget it, it's only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a 'gift from God' and keep quiet'.When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, 'Here, you gave me too much change'.
The driver, with a smile, replied, 'Aren't you the new rabbi in town?' 'Yes' he replied. 'Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I'll see you in Shul on Shabbos'. When the rabbi stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, 'Oh Rebono Shel Olam, I almost sold a Yid for a quarter.'
Our lives are the only thing some people will ever read. This is a really scary example of how much people watch us as JEW, and will put us to the test! Always be on guard -- and remember -- You carry the name of HaShem on your shoulders when you call yourself a 'JEW'.
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
[Today [friday] is the fourteenth of Adar Aleph - Purim Kotton]
I heard a few years ago an unbelievable speech from Rav Avraham Schorr Shlita about the power of prayer on Purim Kotton. He quoted a Chidushei Harim that explained a reason for the mitzvah of “chayav inush lbisumei bepuryah”, the mitzvah of drinking on Purim. He told a story that happened in the times of the Bal Shem Tov. There was a terrible decree against the Jews, everybody prayed and did various mitzvahs but nothing changed and the decree was still in place. Finally the Bal Shem Tov instructed one of his followers to go to a distant down and find a certain drunkard and bring him back to the Bal Shem Tov. The messenger was advised not to allow the drunkard to drink so that he would be sober when he was brought to the Bal Shem Tov. When the drunkard was brought to the Bal Shem Tov, he asked the drunkard for a bracha that the decree be abolished, he gave a bracha and immediately the decree was annulled. The Bal Shem Tov explained to his close followers that this person had done an unbelievable mitzvah of saving a girl; the mitzvah of Pidyun Shevuyim and in shamayim they were so moved that it was decreed that whatever this person would ask for would be granted immediately.
Suddenly in shamayim there was a big debate, how can a simple person be given such unbelievable power of blessing, maybe he will use it for the wrong things? So they decreed that he would be a drunkard all the time so he would not even realize this power that was given to him.
“THE CHIDUSHEI HARIM EXPLAINED THAT ON PURIM THERE IS A LAW THAT “KOL HAPOSHET YAD NOSNIN”. ANYONE WHO ASKS, YOU HAVE TO GIVE. THIS IS TRUE ALSO REGARDING PRAYING, WHEN WE DAVEN TO H-ASHEM HE HAS TO ANSWER OUR REQUESTS. SO TO COUNTER THIS UNBELIEVABLE POWER OF PRAYER, THE CHACHOMIM MADE THE LAW OF DRINKING ON PURIM SO THAT WE DON’T USE THE DAY FOR PRAYING FOR THE WRONG THINGS. THE CHIDUSHEI HARIM CONTINUES THAT IF SOMEBODY FEELS THAT HE WANTS TO BE SMARTER THEN THE CHACHOMIM AND HE WON’T DRINK AND WILL SIT AND DAVEN ALL DAY LONG, HE IS WRONG FOR NOT LISTENING TO THE CHACHOMIM.”
THERE IS A MISHNA IN MEGILLAH THAT SAYS “EIN BAIN ADAR RISHON L’A DAR SHENIE ELE KRIAS MEGILLAH UMATONAS LEVYONIM BILVAD ”; THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FIRST ADAR AND THE SECOND ADAR ONLY THAT YOU CAN NOT DO YOUR OBLIGATION OF READING MEGILLAH AND PRESENTS FOR THE POOR.THE POWER OF PRAYER REMAINS EXACTLY THE SAME; HOWEVER, BY THE FIRST ADAR THE RABBIS DID NOT MAKE AN OBLIGATION TO DRINK. SO HERE WE HAVE A DAY THAT HAS THE TREMENDOUS POWER OF PRAYER AND THE CHACHOMIM DID NOT COUNTER IT WITH AN OBLIGATION TO DRINK. LET US USE THIS FRIDAY TO DAVEN TO H-ASHEM FOR ALL THE RIGHT THINGS, KLAL YISROEL IS LIVING THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES AND THERE ARE MANY THINGS TO DAVEN FOR...
WE SHOULD BE ALL BE ZOCHE TO SEE MOSHIACH BMIHERA BYOMEINU. THIS SHOULD BE A ZECHUS FOR THE NESHAMA OF MOSHE DOVID BEN PINCHUS DOV, HIS NESHAMA SHOULD HAVE AN ALIYA.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
May Hashem grant him many many years of good health and happiness!!
The latest article from Yeshivas Mevakesh Lev is dedicated to him.
A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small Texas town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger...he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.
If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.
Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)
Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home.... Not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush.
My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol. But the stranger encouraged us to try it ona regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely!) about intimate relations. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.
I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER asked to leave.
More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name?.... We just call him, "TV."
* *Note: This should be required reading for every household in America!** He has a wife now....We call her "Computer.."
Thursday, February 10, 2011
In Parshat Tetzaveh, we continue to learn about the various vessels found in the Mishkan. Upon first glance it might be puzzling to learn about the very elaborate and ornate details of the priestly garments that the most spiritual leaders are instructed to wear. Certainly we would expect the kohanim - on their lofty, yet humble level - to perform their services in more modest garb. A deeper understanding of the function of the priestly garments - as more than accessories, but actual vessels in the work of the Mishkan - reveals that the message of the bigdei kehunah is truly one of modesty, humility, and propriety. The Torah tells us:
Va’asita bigdei kodesh l’Aharon achicha l’kavod ul’tiferet
You shall make holy garments for Aharon your brother for glory and beauty (Ex. 28:2)
In trying to relate the reason behind the bigdei kehunah, the Sefer Hachinuch (mitzvah 99) suggests there is a fundamental lesson to be learned: our exteriors and our actions inform our internal thoughts, feelings, and intentions. The priestly garments served to constantly remind the kohen that he serves a spiritual leader and should be an exemplar of how to serve Hashem.
With this we can understand why the clothing were so crucial to their service. In order to fulfill their divine duties to the best of their abilities, the kohanim had to feel sanctified and dignified - this was accomplished through the donning of the priestly apparel:
…and they shall make Aaron's garments to sanctify him, that he serve Me as a kohen (Ex. 28:3)
In Judaism, modesty is not at all about negation of self worth. Rather, the Torah calls upon us to recognize our inherent value and potential; our sense of modesty comes not from a place of worthlessness, but from the recognition that we have so much to live up to. The priestly garments reminded the kohanim of their honorable role and the responsibility that came along with it.
Though we instinctually think about modesty in terms of dress, the function of these pristine and priestly garments as vessels for serving Hashem forces us to understand the concept of modesty in broader terms. The priestly garments symbolize the need for us to constantly be reminded who we are and who we are striving to be. In essence, our external garb should remind us of our intrinsic value as well as the values we hope to live by. Indeed this is the definition of modesty we find in the Torah:
What does Hashem ask of you: only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk modestly with God (Micah 6:8)
The lesson of the priestly garments and the verse quoted above are one in the same: to live modestly is to walk with God. When the priests walked with their clothing, they walked with the awareness of their role as divine servants and with the intention of acting accordingly.In this way the priestly clothing to not challenge the Jewish value of modesty, but teaches us a deeper understanding of this most esteemed quality.
Our clothing constantly informs and inspires our mindset, which in turn, influences our actions. In this way, clothing creates continuity between thought and action - between internalized values and our external actions. Indeed, the word tiferet, used to describe the priestly garments, translates not simply as beauty, but harmony. This nuanced understanding of this word suggests that this harmony between the internal and the external is precisely the purpose of the priestly garments. The inherent value each Jew possesses and the need to constantly live in accordance with this inner-sanctity is highlighted in the opening of our parsha with the command to light the Menorah:
And you shall command the children of Israel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to kindle the lamps continually (Ex. 27:20)
Chazal explain that the light of the Menorah symbolizes wisdom and intellect. The Seforno, among others, notes that the lights of the Menorah faced inwards toward the middle light, suggesting that all wisdom and thought should be directed towards the central light. Like the priestly garments, the Menorah teaches us that all our intentions and actions should be enlightened by the wisdom and the word of Hashem – the Source of all light. The fact that the candle was aflame reminds us that we can never take a break from letting the Torah light guide us.
The lessons of the priestly garments, which are highlighted by the Menorah, hold true for us today. Our outerwear is at once a reflection of the internal values we know to be true, an expression of our own inner-value, and finally, a reminder to make choices in line with our value system. We know that the neir tamid, the eternal flame, symbolized the constant presence of Hashem in the Mishkan and amidst Klal Yisrael. The fact that we are innately and eternally connected to Hashem should be our greatest source of self-value and worth. May we all be able to feel the presence of Hashem within us and around us - in so doing, may we be moved to walk modestly with Him - by making choices and taking action in ways that are aligned with our inherent honor and sanctity.
Shabbat Shalom, Taly
Similarly in marriage, one can have problems and spend a lot of money on marriage counseling. Or, one can take measures to avoid problems in the first place.
Think about it.....
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
But someone sent me this video and it's worth a look.
As soon as the Captain became comfortable on the couch, the Psychiatrist began the session by asking the Captain,“Why don’t you start at the beginning?”
The Captain said, “Okay. In the beginning I created heaven and the earth… “
Oy sweetest friends - all too often we try to control our lives and when things don't go our way we get frustrated. We want to get married, have children, make a good living, enjoy good health etc. etc.. But the reality is, very little of the aforementioned is in our hands.
Leave it up to Him and RELAX!!:)
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
.....An absolutely fascinating story, and it begins with Charles Darwin.
Darwin hit a problem he could not solve. I understand from Darwin that all life evolves by natural selection, which means, by the way of competition for scarce resources: food, shelter and the like.
If so, you would expect that all societies would value the most competitive, even the most ruthless individuals. But Darwin noticed that it isn't so. In fact, in every society of which he knew, it was the most altruistic individuals who were the most valued and admired, not the most competitive. Or, if I can put it in the language of Richard Dawkins: a bundle of selfish genes get together and produce selfless people. That was Darwin's paradox, and it lay unsolved until the late 1970s.
It was then that three very different disciplines converged: sociobiology, a branch of mathematics called games theory, and high-speed computer simulation. Together they produced something called the iterated prisoner's dilemma.
To cut a long story short, what they discovered was that though natural selection works through the genes of individuals, individuals -- certainly in the higher life-forms -- survive only because they are members of groups. And groups survive only on the basis of reciprocity and trust, on what I have called covenant, or the logic of co-operation. One human versus one lion, the lion wins. Ten humans versus one lion, the humans are in with a chance.
It turns out that the very things that make Homo sapiens different – the use of language, the size of the brain, even the moral sense itself -- have to do with the ability to form and sustain groups: the larger the brain, the larger the group.
Neo-Darwinians call this reciprocal altruism. Sociologists call it trust. Economists call it social capital. And it is one great intellectual discoveries of our time. Individuals need groups. Groups need co-operation. And co-operation needs covenant, bonds of reciprocity and trust.
Traditionally, that was the work of religion. After all, the word 'religion' itself comes from a Latin root meaning 'to bind'. And whether we take a conservative thinker like Edmund Burke, or a radical like Thomas Paine, or a social scientist like Emil Durkheim, or an outside observer like Alexis de Tocqueville, they all saw this, and explained it, each in their own way. And now it has been scientifically demonstrated. If there is only competition and not co-operation, if there is only the state and the market and no covenantal relationships, society will not survive.
What then happens to a society when religion wanes and there is nothing covenantal to take its place? Relationships break down. Marriage grows weak. Families become fragile. Communities atrophy. And the result is that people feel vulnerable and alone. If they turn those feelings outward, the result is often anger turning to violence. If they turn them inward, the result is depression, stress related syndromes, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse. Either way, there is spiritual poverty in the midst of material affluence.
It doesn't happen all at once, but slowly, gradually and inexorably. Societies without covenants and the institutions needed to inspire and sustain them, disintegrate. Initially, the result is a loss of graciousness in our shared and collective lives. Ultimately, it is a loss of freedom itself.
He answered - Mordechai was thinking "When will this silly show of honor be done with and I can get back to my learning."
Monday, February 7, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Reb Aryeh replied, "Don't worry, I am very short so I can't see whether or not you are wearing a head-covering. I can only see up to your heart....
He was a short man of giant stature!
But I will say this - THANK G-D WE GOT OUTTA THERE WHEN WE HAD THE CHANCE!!
אני ה' אלקיכם אשר הוצאתי אתכם מארץ מצרים להיות לכם לאלקים!!!
Thursday, February 3, 2011
When asked, where does God exist? the Kotzker Rebbe replied, wherever you let Him in. In this week’s parsha, we learn how true this statement can be – and how we can make it real for each us.
Parshat Teruma is the first of many parshiot that describe in great detail the instructions to build the Mishkan. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks reminds us that every lesson in the Torah is timeless, as he writes, The Tabernacle did not last forever, but the lesson it taught did. With this in mind we must try to understand the significance of the many chapters we find instructing us in how to build a structure that no longer exists. In doing so we will discover how we, too, can create an environment in which God’s presence can be felt.
Let us first explore the significance of the Mikdash in its time in order to appreciate its implications for us today. Rashi, among others, maintains that the command to build the Mishkan was a reaction to the Sin of the Golden Calf (Ex. 31:18; 33:11). By building the idol, the Jewish people demonstrated they needed a tangible vehicle through which to relate to the Divine. The Mishkan would serve as a more acceptable medium through which the Jewish people could relate to Hashem.
There is a question that begs to be answered if we follow this position: if the problem was that the Jews did realize that they did not need a vehicle to be able to relate to Hashem (because, after all, Hashem is here, Hashem is there) - then how could a structure that would essentially serve this same purpose solve this problem? Perhaps the larger, more fundamental question is: if we believe that Hashem is truly everywhere then what indeed is the purpose of creating a dwelling place for Him?
In dealing with these questions we will see the true value of the Mishkan as it differs from the structure, function, and purpose of the Golden Calf. We will see that the process of building the Mishkan is infused with essential lessons in how to channel our spiritual need and yearning to constantly be coming closer to Hashem not only when we find ourselves in the House of Worship. Indeed the struggle for the finite man to relate to a transcendent, infinite Being is an eternal one – and so these lessons are everlasting and ever important for us today.
The most critical, most glaring difference between the two structures is that the Mishkan was commanded to be built by God: And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst (Ex. 25:8), whereas the building of the Golden Calf was a direct violation of last command given to the people on Har Sinai: You shall not make [images of anything that is] with Me. Gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves (Ex. 20:20).
In Judaism there is always room for individuality and initiative – but it must be within the confines of the Torah’s boundaries. In the moment they built a golden image, the Jewish people did not yet understand that one could not possibly be serving Hashem when directly transgressing His will. The end does not always justify the means.
In any relationship, the greatest joy comes from giving a gift that you know the other person wants. To buy a birthday gift for someone that you would want but they would likely never use is certainly a nice gesture - but to go out of your way to figure out what they want and get it for them - displays a far greater level of care and devotion. And so it is with Hashem – and we are so privileged to have His Torah, to be given insight to know what He wants from us. To ignore the “instructions” God provides in order to relate to Him would no longer be the service of Hashem, but the service of the self. Perhaps this is why the Golden Calf serves as the most notable form of avodah zarah (literally foreign service) - because the moment they transgressed the will of Hashem, it was not about serving Him at all.
Another notable difference is that building the Golden Calf was a seemingly effortless and timeless task, while the construction of Mishkan was a much lengthier and consuming process. With their impulsive decision to create an idol, the Jewish people proved that they did not yet realize that relating to Hashem is not a simple or quick process – to be at a point that we feel His presence in our lives cannot and will not happen in a moment's time.
In building the Mishkan, the Jewish people learned that it is only when we are willing to take the time, expend the energy, and keep with it that we will succeed at establishing a lasting relationship. In fact, the whole essence of the Mishkan was that it was portable – wherever the Jewish people went, the Mishkan was with them – because the process of developing our relationship with Hashem must be ongoing and unending - in order for it to be enduring.
A final difference to note is that the Mishkan was filled with vessels that were to be used in the service of Hashem. It was not enough to gaze from a distance at a glamorous statue or figure to be uplifted as they might have expected with idol they first constructed - to have a truly meaningful experience, they had to enter the Mishkan, they had to take part in the Mishkan, they had to make themselves a part of the structure itself. The Mishkan and all its vessels served as vehicles through which the Heavens and earth could meet – but perhaps its most important function was that it enabled the Jewish people to be transformed into vessels themselves – whether by building, carrying, or utilizing the Mishkan.
If we are not apart of the process and we depend on other people or other vehicles alone to inspire and uplift us - if we listen to beautiful concepts and ideas without acting upon them - then we will find ourselves slipping down the spiritual ladder. We need to be involved and engaged in the process of serving Hashem order to climb upward, to reach higher. We need to be the vessels in order to bring Hashem down into our world. In this way, it is through our actions that Heaven and earth can meet.
And so in these parshiot that describe in great detail the process of building the Mishkan, we are really learning how to make ourselves vehicles to let God in - and indeed it is quite a process. But, with the time and effort we put in, we somehow transcend time and space by becoming the vessels that let God into our world– so that wherever we go and wherever we are, we are able to connect to Hashem. And indeed that is time and energy well spent!
As we usher in the Month of Adar, may we find simchah with this realization that mankind - limited and finite in so many ways - can relate to and connect with a transcendent, infinite, and limitless Being whose presence is, in fact, all around us even within us.
Shabbat Shalom & Chodesh Tov, Taly
Who was the first person to learn Chumash with Rashi?
Rashi's father. [When Rashi was a child his father learned Chumash together with him. Hence the first to learn Chumash with Rashi was Rashi's father].
What is the difference between a fly and a bee?
A bee can fly - but a fly can't bee. But a fly CAN be ..... annoying.
משנכנס אדר מרבים בשמחה
FREILICH TYERE YIDDEN!!!:)
The year is 1991 and I am a student in Mesivta D'Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn. It is Superbowl Sunday. Giants against the Bills. I have two choices. I can watch the game. Or I can go to afternoon seder and continue plowing through Maseches Gittin. What's the question?? I am a red blooded American who CAN'T MISS this ALL-IMPORTANT game. The Gemara can wait. It's not going anywhere.
I went to seder.
At that moment I made a life changing choice. The eternal word of G-d over and above the shtus and nonsense of Western subculture. I have never seen a Superbowl since. When I meet the Heavenly Court I don't think I will have much to show for myself but I will definitely bring January 27 1991 with me and hopefully that will be my ticket to eternity.
A note on the game - serves the Bills right for defeating my beloved Dolphins.
A word on my beloved Dolphins - we got divorced long ago. Is Marino still playing??
ברוך אלקינו שבראנו לכבודו והבדילנו מן התועים ונתן לנו תורת אמת וחיי עולם נטע בתוכנו
Love and blessings!
PS - A special thank you to my parents who always let me attend the Yeshivos of my choice - and even paid for the black hat and dark suit:).
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
For this I mourn.
Then they grow up and are never able to shake the nagging feeling that they are not good enough.
A person is special by virtue of the fact that he/she was created in the image of G-d. Period.
After this feeling is internalized we may begin to expect the child to ATTEMPT to succeed.
I don't love my children for what they DO.
I love my children for who they ARE.