Friday, November 30, 2018

Parshas Vayeishev

After the brothers sold Yosef to the mitzriyim, they dipped his coat into blood and told their father Yaakov that Yosef was killed by a wild animal. For the next 22 years, Yaakov mourned his son. He could not be consoled because his son was really alive all along.

We don't like to think about death while we are alive in this world because it makes us feel vulnerable and we have to take a good look at where we are holding in our life, our accomplishments and our spiritual level. But it's helpful to think about once in a while and to ask ourselves, "Are we maximizing our time while we're here?" 
"Are we developing our character or only spending time on things that are fleeting?"
"What will people remember about us once we're gone?" 

May we be zoche to live long,  happy and productive lives and utilize these questions to move higher and become better!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Parshas Vayishlach

After Yakov fought the Malach of Eisav, he asked him, "What is your name?" The response of the malach was, "Why are you asking for my name?"

This is the essence of the yetzer hara. He tries to disguise himself so we don't realize we are doing the wrong thing. Things become unclear when we are fighting the yetzer hara and don't realize it's him. Things like, "I'm saying this for to'eles" or "I'm going online for a good reason" (and end up wasting so much time) are ways the yetzer hara traps us. Any time we are tricked into thinking were doing something good but the loss outweighs the gain, we should realize it's time to back down.

May we be able to be vigilant, on guard and aware of these tricks so we can come out winning the battle against the Sar shel Eisav, the yetzer hara!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Parshas Vayeitzei

Rashi tells us that the reason the passuk says Yaakov left is because when a tzaddik leaves a place, it makes an impression. People feel a loss; they gained a lot from his presence and now that he is no longer there, it affects them.

We should think about our presence and how it affects others. Are we pleasant to be around? What happens when we leave-our homes, offices, schools or any place where we are surrounded by others? Do people silently think "good riddance" or do they feel like they gained something by spending time in our presence? Do we leave a lasting impression on those who we come in contact with? We can-by complimenting them, by listening in a real way and by creating lasting connections.

May we be able to interact with those around us in a meaningful way so that when we part, people feel the difference and want to emulate our actions!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Parshas Toldos

When Eisav came in from the field tired and hungry, he agreed to sell the bechorah in exchange for lentil soup. He gave up something eternal and got something fleeting instead.

When we are tired, hungry or stressed, we don't have the clarity to make good decisions. We might say or do things we will later regret. It takes a lot of work to be able to maintain an inner sense of calm but when we can do that, we will be in complete control of ourselves and our reactions. We will be able to respond to people with calm logic instead of reacting with emotional intensity. 

May we be able to pay attention to our inner selves and regulate our emotions in a healthy way so we can deal with all situations calmly and with clarity!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Parshas Chaya Sara

Avraham sent his servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son Yitzchok. Eliezer looked for one quality in the girl in question. She must be a baalas chessed, someone who notices what someone else needs and offers to go above and beyond-in this case by giving water to Eliezer and his camels.

We see that the most important part of a person is their character, their middos and the way they care for others. Not looks, not money, not talents-but what the person does with the gifts they were given. We should reflect on our own selves and make sure we are using whatever qualities we have to make a difference in the lives of others.

May we be able to appreciate the things that really matter in others and keep using our talents and gifts to help other people!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Shabbos-Never Forget

This poem was written by a friend, B.K. I'm posting it here with her permission. 

A time of peace
Quality time 
With family
Was destroyed 
This week.

A time that was a celebration 
To bring forth
A new Jewish child
Ended in destruction. 

Bloody mass destruction.
Their lives
Were overturned
This shabbos.

This shabbos
Will go down
In Jewish history
We can’t forget
We must not forget
The people that were 
Taken from us.

What message
Are we supposed to take
What are we really
Supposed to be mourning
While crying in grief
For the families

If you heard about this,
God specifically wanted you
To hear.
There is a reason.
A change
An action
That you need to take.

Think about it.
Don’t think
About the questions
We cannot understand
Think about the reason
For why you were meant
To hear about this.

Do it now.
And don’t ever
About this shabbos.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Parshas Vayeira

Avraham Avinu invited three guests into his home, even though they didn't look like him and they were idol worshippers. His kindness extended to every type of person, no matter what they looked like on the outside.

Hachnosas Orchim sometimes transforms us into kinder, more sympathetic people. We treat strangers with more respect and tolerance than our own family. Perhaps this week, we can pretend our close family members are our guests and treat them with an extra level of care and consideration. We can be more giving, more patient and more understanding of those closest to us. Although it's easy to fall into the trap of habit and snap at the people who push our buttons, if we put in the effort to treat them with extra consideration, we can transform our relationships and make them stronger.

May we be able to act with forethought and respond to our close family members with a gentle touch, bringing more light and love into our homes!

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!