Friday, October 19, 2018

Parshas Lech Lecha

Avram is childless and after marrying Hagar, she gives birth to Yishmael. He continues to wait for his wife Sarah to have a child and eventually (in next week's parsha), Yitzchok is born.

In life, we often have to wait for things. We don't reach the next stage at the same time as our friends and peers and it sometimes feels unfair. We need to remember that Hashem has a plan and we can't understand why He wants us to wait or why He isn't giving us exactly what we want at the time we want it. And we also need to keep believing in Him and hoping for our salvation to come...because it is in His hands and He can make it happen!

May we be able to keep our faith in Hashem strong, keep davening and hoping for the changes we wish for and merit to see and experience the good we are waiting for!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Parshas Noach

After Noach built the taivah, he and his family stayed on the top level, the animals on the middle level and the garbage was kept on the bottom. 

Practically, it made sense to set it up this way but the Torah is teaching us how important it is to be neat and organized. A clean house, where everything is in its place, has a more calm feeling. It is an important element to the shalom bayis of the home. When you structure your week around shabbos and know in advance what time candle lighting is, you can hopefully enter shabbos without stress. If this isn't your strong point, you can get tips and help from others who are more organized. Having things orderly lends to a positive atmosphere whereas messes brings on stresses! 

May we be able to have a calm and stress-free atmosphere in our homes by keeping things orderly and in their place!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Parshas Bereishis

The Torah discusses things that cast people in a negative light. It talks about the cheit of Adam and Chava in detail, the story of Kayin and Hevel and ends with Hashem deciding He wants to destroy the world. Why does the Torah write about all these bad things? Shouldn't it only tell us the good things people did? 

We see that all people make mistakes. Mistakes don't make us bad. They make us human. We need to learn from our experiences and do something different next time. Then, the mistake becomes something positive. 

We learn from Adam and Chava about overcoming temptation, from Kayin and Hevel to give the best when you're giving a gift and about the negative effects of jealousy. The aveiros the Torah talks about help us gain important lessons for life!

May we be able to pick ourselves up after we stumble and have the strength to do better next time we are faced with a challenge!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Succos-Koheles

As the wisest of all men, Shlomo Hamelech describes how he explored all the wisdom and experienced all possible pleasures. He built houses, planted vineyards and orchards, collected gold, silver and musical instruments. And he concludes that all of it is worthless and pursuing it leads to frustration.

So what is the purpose of life if chasing wisdom and pleasures leaves us feeling dissatisfied?

There are two things to focus on. The first is to rejoice-in our actions and in our lot in life. When we are satisfied with what we have and with what we are doing, we won't need to run after things that are meaningless. 

The second is to give to others. If we are intent on giving and sharing (anything-our money, a listening ear, advice, our time), we will look out for what others need and wont harp on what we don't have. This will keep us happy and content and fill our lives with meaning.

May we live our lives with joy and always be on the giving end so we can feel happy and fulfilled at all times!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Sukkah

After we confessed our sins and begged Hashem to be inscribed in the Book of Life, Hashem "wraps His arms around us" in a loving embrace. This is what the walls of the sukkah represent. 

We leave our homes and enter the sukkah, expressing our total dependence on Hashem. We live in this simple hut, showing that materialism is not the most important thing. Our focus should be on the eternal-on our relationship with Hashem and doing things that have lasting value. 

May we be able to stay calm and keep the atmosphere in the sukkah peaceful by remembering that we are in Hashem's embrace and His shechina is right here with us! 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Parshas Ha'azinu

The Torah tells us, "Hatzur tamim pa'alo"- Hashem's actions are perfect and whole. But "banav mumam"- His children are blemished.

When we see or experience people acting wrongly, we should not question Hashem. He is perfect and everything He does is for the good. It's us people who are imperfect and have to fix ourselves. Hashem gives us free will to act in ways that we desire. If we would only act positively, we wouldn't have free will. It's the fact that we can act wrongly that allows us to choose between good and evil. Our negative actions are not a reflection of Hashem's middos, they're a reflection of our own!

May we be able to make good choices and make a kiddush Hashem wherever we go so that we impact people positively and elevate our souls to higher levels of giving and kindness!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Erev Yom Kippur


It's Erev Yom Kippur. 

We spend the day preparing, eating and asking people we may have wronged for forgiveness. It's a time for introspection. We make commitments to change for the better and ask Hashem to help us keep to our resolutions.

We look back at the past year and see how much has changed in our lives. Some things fill our hearts with gratitude and other things fill our hearts with questions. But we know all of it is for the good. We wish each other a "gmar chasima tova"-but if everything Hashem does is for the good, why do we need to give each other this blessing?

Although we try to instill the belief into our hearts that everything Hashem does is for our ultimate benefit, our desire is for all that happens in the coming year to be noticeable good in the moment. Not that we should have to wait days, weeks, months or a lifetime to be able to see why what we went through was good for us in the end.

May we be able to utilize the day of YK to achieve true kapparah, cleanse ourselves of our aveiros and be written and sealed in the Sefer Hachayim with immediate, recognizable good in all aspects of our lives!

Have a meaningful Yom Kippur!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Parshas Vayeilech

Moshe Rabbeinu talks to BY before he dies. He repeats, Stay strong and don't be afraid because Hashem will fight against your enemies for you.

In life, we all have battles that we are trying to fight. The way to stay strong and not be afraid is to strengthen our faith in Hashem. We must realize that He is at our side and will help us fight each of those battles. We should daven that we feel His presence and that Hashem gives us the ability to keep pushing, to keep trying and to ultimately succeed. 

May we be able to tap into our inner strength and feel Hashem helping us fight all our battles-spiritual, emotions and physical ones and come out at the top!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Parshas Nitzavim

Moshe tells Bnei Yisroel - you have a choice between life and good and death and bad. He says, choose life!
The way to choose life is by making choices that connect us to the source of life, Hashem.

Now, before Rosh Hashanah, we should ask ourselves, are we doing things that bring us closer to Hashem or are we distancing ourselves from Him? Are we using the gifts He gave us-our eyes, ears, mouth, hands and feet to connect to Hashem in a real way?

Do we try to see Hashem in our daily life?
Are we receptive to inspiration?
Do we speak calmly and kindly to others?
Can we use our hands to do chessed thereby making a kiddush Hashem?
Have we walked away from arguments and negativity?

It's the last shabbos of the year. We have a chance to fix everything we've corrupted over this past year. Let's make a commitment to use our body to connect to Hashem, the source of life. 

May we be able to elevate every fiber of our being to connect to Hashem, the source of life and this way, well merit to be written down for a year of life, connection and meaning!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Parshas Ki Savo

The blessings that will come upon Bnei Yisroel if we keep the Torah and the curses Hashem will send if we don't are described in detail. The curses will befall us, "tachas asher lo avadita..." because we didn't serve Hashem with joy. Another meaning for tachas is below or under. 

This can be interpreted as, if we see someone who isn't doing mitzvos with joy, don't rush to judge them. Look beneath the surface. Try to understand why. There's a reason why the enthusiasm for Torah and mitzvos is missing. And when we realize that, we can approach them with love and acceptance...and help them see the beauty and joy in serving Hashem. 

May we be able to do the mitzvos with happiness and help fill in the gaps for those who are missing an appreciation for yiddishkeit!