Thursday, October 10, 2019

Succos-It's Temporary

We leave our homes
For a smaller home
Exposed to the elements
Aren't we always exposed?
Hashem knows everything
All our thoughts
We can't hide from Him
We can face Him
We can embrace Him
And remember 
That just as our home
Is temporary 
And after eight days 
In this temporary abode
We go back 
Back to our comfortable home
We will all one day 
Leave this world
Our stay here
Is temporary 
We aren't here
Let's use our time
In this temporary world
To do things
Good deeds
That last
That leave
An everlasting impact
On those around us

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Elul - More Time

I'm posting this here again because it's such a good message.

I got a ticket.

For an expired meter.

I was frustrated and upset. 

I rushed out of a store after waiting on line for way too long and saw the two police officers...slowly walking away from my car. There was the familiar orange color of the ticket tucked into my windshield. I ran.

I ran after them. 

I begged and pleaded with them to please take the ticket back, do somethinganything so I wouldn't have to pay the money.

"Buy a new one," one of the police officers said. "There's nothing I can do, but quick, buy a new meter card and I'll explain..."

"But..." I stammered

"Just buy it-if there are six minutes between the time on the ticket and the time on your new meter card, you..."

I didn't listen to the rest. 

I got a quarter, quickly put it into the machine and checked the time. It said 2:13pm.

I grabbed the orange ticket and compared the time. I was "caught" at 2:09pm. My new meter card showed four minutes after the time the ticket was issued.

I waited for the policeman to explain the rest, while trying to calm my pounding heart.

"Now you have a way out," he explained. "Since there are less than six minutes between the time you were ticketed and the time on your new card, you can now fight the ticket. There is a six minute grace period...and you can say that you were in middle of getting a new card and you had to get quarters from your car and during that time you got a ticket."

I'm not sure about the lying part and making up a story, but if there is a way for me to get out...if the judge will give me six minutes of time...I will not have to pay this ticket. I am grateful.

Rosh Hashana is almost here.

We feel so unprepared.

What?? Elul passed already?

It's been almost 30 days...what do we have to show for ourselves?

But Hashem is a Ba'al Rachamim.

He is not out to get us. He doesn't want us to have to pay for our mistakes, for our negligence, for our lateness.

And so we were give the gift of Teshuva. And the gift of time. And more time.

When we repent, show real, true regret for the things we may have done wrong, the good things we should have done but never did, the lost opportunities, the mistakes we made, Hashem listens.

He is aware of the circumstances that may have caused us to fall. And unlike the police officers who didn't care about the long line that caused me to be delayed by a few minutes, Hashem understands and takes all those "excuses" into account. 

When we are sincere about the kind of person we wish to become, Hashem hears.

When we ask Him to help us change, because it is just too hard for us to do it alone, Hashem listens...and He will help us.

But more than that, Hashem blessed us with time...and more time.

Yes, the meter is running out, but we can "buy another card." After Rosh Hashana, we are given ten days, the aseres yimei teshuva and after that we have Yom Kippur.

Look at how much rachmanus Hashem has!

He keeps giving us more and more time to do teshuva and come closer to Him!

That is not to say that we should push it off to the last minute (even though the last minute is almost here!). We should utilize the time we have now to think. Think about the past year...and the coming year...and the brachos we would like to see in our lives...and the changes we would like to see in ourselves...and start now. 

We may feel discouraged by the fact that so much time has passed and we haven't even made a dent in the changes we wish we could make, we didn't use Elul much...and we went through our daily routines without even thinking about teshuva. But we should not dispair! Just like when the meter was out, instead of slowly strolling back to my car, I RAN, we can all run now. Instead of sauntering through the next few days as if we don't have a care in the world, let's show Hashem how becoming the person we want to be is important to us. Let's show Hashem that we want to change, we want to become better, different, elevated, spiritual, growing people. 

Let's use the little time we have left to think about the past year...the things we did that we wish we would never have done, things we may have read, watched, listened to, spoken about...and let's think about ways we can put up safeguards so that we don't stumble every time. Yes, we may fall, but falling is part of the process of growing. And like a trampoline, realize that sometimes we can jump even higher because of our downs, because of our falls. It is all part of the beauty of spiritual growth.

Change isn't easy. But we are given another gift-the gift of tefillah. And we can ask Hashem to help us become the person we dream of becoming. It may seem far off...but with baby steps, we can get there.

Thank you, Hashem for the gift of teshuva. Please help all of us use whatever time we have left until the yom hadin to utilize that the fullest!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Parshas Eikev

Moshe Rabbeinu tells Bnei Yisroel not to be afraid of conquering the land of Eretz Yisroel. And if they do start to feel scared or nervous, they should think back to the miracles Hashem did for them when they left mitzrayim. They will realize that just as Hashem helped them in the past, He will continue to help them fight these battles and take over the land.  

In life, we are sometimes afraid to look ahead. We don't know what the future will bring and we don't know how we will overcome our battles. We need to fortify ourselves with emunah and remember the times Hashem helped us in the past. When we think about other times Hashem helped us pull through, we will feel strengthened and know that He will help us this time too. 

May we hold on to our faith in Hashem at all times, by looking back at the times Hashem helped us and staying confident that He will be there for us in the future!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Parshas Va'eschanon

When Moshe Rabbeinu speaks to the Jewish Nation before his death, he tells them that we will do aveiros and we will be sent to galus. But, Hashem will never forsake us as a nation and we will ultimately do teshuva and return to Hashem.

While we are in this galus, we may go through times where we feel lost and alone. But we must remember this promise. Hashem will never abandon us! He will never forsake us! And if we use what we are going through to return to Him and to come closer to Him, we will add meaning to our life and purpose to our pain.

May we be able to keep growing and keep coming closer to Hashem as we bridge the gap between us and our Father in Heaven!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Tisha B'Av

During the nine days, the rules we keep are similar to the halachos of someone who mourns the loss of a close relative. We don't listen to music and we don't wear fresh clothing. 

But on Tisha B'av, the mourning intensifies to another level. We don't eat or drink, we don't wear leather shoes and we don't greet people with a warm hello. When someone loses a loved one, they don't have an appetite and they don't feel like greeting everyone they meet. They miss their relative and nothing else matters!

This is why we fast.

On Tisha B'av, we mourn the loss of the closest relationship we once had with Hashem. How can we eat when we are so far away from the ideal lifestyle? We use the sadness of the day to propel us to make better choices so we can experience that same closeness once again.

May the confusion and distance we live with be replaced with clarity and closeness as we do everything in our power to bring the Geula!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Parshas Devarim

Moshe Rabbeinu speaks to the Jewish Nation before he dies. He spends five weeks telling them all the things they will need to hear before their new leader, Yehoshuah, will take over.

While we don't like to think about death, all of us will one day leave this world. While we are still alive, we can think about what kind of messages we are leaving for those around us by the things we spend time doing, the way we act and the words we say. The interactions we have with others really do leave a memorable, lasting impact on our friends and family. 

May we be able to utilize our time while we are still alive to impact those around us in positive ways and act as a role model for spiritual growth to all those we come in contact with!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Nine Days

We are now in the nine days. 

Unfortunately, we are so distant, so far, many of us don't even connect to what we are supposed to be mourning for. So we go through the motions, we don't wash our clothes, we take lukewarm showers and we don't eat meat. 

Yet, we look out for gourmet dairy recipes. We shop for the finest ingredients so our final product with be tasty with an exceptional presentation. 

We even send jokes about how hard it is to manage for nine full days without meat. (Two of those days happen to be shabbos this year). 

Seriously?! Jokes?

I get that we want to have good food and we want it to look and taste good but are we really going to joke about how difficult it is to manage for a week without any meat? That we can't barbeque? 

We don't get what we're mourning about. We don't grasp the enormity of the loss. So chazal instituted some external signs of mourning so we shouldn't forget that we should be sad about something.

You want to really feel it? Open up a shir hashirim and read about the love between Hashem and His Jewish Nation. Read about the bond we once had, the connection we are aching to have again. Learn what it means to be really close to Hashem, as close as a husband and wife who love each other more than anyone else in the world. 

This is the love Hashem has for us! This is the connection He wants to reestablish with us! 

But we are far too distracted to notice. We are busy mourning our week without meat instead of mourning what we really lost.

Let's stop for a moment. 

Ponder our lives. 

Think about what we're missing. 

Think about the lack of clarity. The lack of morals. The lack of understanding. 

And daven for the day when we will be reunited with a true bond of love and affection to the One who is waiting to show us just how much He loves us.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Parshas Matos-Masei

The Parsha lists the many places the Jews traveled to while in the desert in great detail. We know that there is no extra letter or extra word in the Torah so this detailed list is all the more significant. Every stop the Jews made in the desert was important and worthy of being mentioned.

In our own lives, we may not know why we have to go through certain things or why we have to make specific stops along our journey, but we do know that there is a reason for every single step of our journey. Each thing we go through, every person we meet, every place we end up at, is important. There is a reason and a purpose for it all.

May we be able to utilize the stops along our journey for growth and personal development and leave a positive, lasting impression on each person we meet along the way!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Parshas Pinchas

After he is told that he will not lead Jewish People into the Promised Land, Moshe Rabbeinu asks Hashem to appoint someone to take his place. Hashem tells Moshe that Yehoshua will be the one to lead the Nation after he dies.

Just like Hashem would never abandon His nation and leave them without a leader, Hashem would never abandon any one of us. He already has the salvation in place before He gives us a challenge. We can strengthen ourselves with this truth by noticing that when we are going through something difficult, Hashem sends a messenger, someone to give us advice or support to help us get through that tough time.

May we be able to help our friends and neighbors when they are struggling and always stay strong in our faith that Hashem has a salvation ready for us before He sends any challenge our way!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Parshas Balak

Balak tried to get Bilam to curse the Jewish People but he was unsuccessful. After three times of trying, he realized that Hashem was the One controlling what came out of Bilam's mouth and he gave up. 

In life, there are many things we try to do. Sometimes they work out immediately and we see Hashem's hand. Other times, we keep trying and we aren't successful. We need to strengthen our emunah and remind ourselves that Hashem orchestrates every detail of our lives, from the words that come out of our mouths to the bigger results of our efforts. We should remember that everything that happens is for our ultimate benefit. 

May we be able to keep trying when things are rough and stay strong in our belief that everything Hashem does is for our good!