Thursday, December 30, 2010

Teshuva and Snow

Who writes about Teshuva in the middle of the winter? Isn't that something we only talk about during Elul - the month before Rosh Hashana?

The truth is,
teshuva is something we should be focusing on every day. I know it is emphasized very strongly in Elul but we mention forgiveness in shemona esrei every day in the bracha of selach lanu when we say, forgive us Hashem because we have sinned...

We all do aveiros. We all do things we shouldn't. Then we look back and feel bad. Guilty. Regret. And we wish we can wipe it all away. And luckily, we can! Hashem has given us the gift of
teshuva - the ability to start fresh and begin all over again.

Hashem says,
if your sins would be as red as scarlet, I'll cleanse you so it will be as white as snow. What is the connection between teshuva and snow - besides for that white, clean color?

When you watch someone shoveling snow from afar, it looks so easy. But when you try to do it on your own, you realize how much strength and energy it takes to make a path for people to walk on. It may be easy to tell other people to change, watch them do the wrong thing and criticize. It's so much simpler to tell the world exactly what is wrong but when it comes to changing yourself, now that's real work. Instead of judging other people and noticing the things they are doing that need to be changed, look at yourself and realize what you have to do to become better.

The longer you leave the snow on the ground without shoveling, the harder it gets to actually get rid of it because it becomes hard and icy. The longer you let that
aveirah stay in your heart, the harder it can get to work on it - because your heart becomes icy, hard like stone and when you get used to doing the wrong thing, it doesn't seem so bad anymore so you may not even think it's something you need to change. But if you notice right away that you did something you should not have and you talk to Hashem about it, you will have an easier time with the teshuva process.

Tell Hashem,
I'm sorry I did this. I know it's wrong. I wasted my time. I looked at, and listened to things I shouldn't have. I yelled. I got angry. I wasn't honest. I wasn't respectful to my parents/teachers. I said things I should never have said. The things I have done dirtied my neshama and I want to make it clean again. Please Hashem, help me overcome the temptation next time it arises! I cannot do it without your help!!

Also, when one person makes a path in the snow, they have now made it easier for everyone else to walk on that street/road. You will not know about all the people who have walked down that path after you shoveled, but you surely deserve to be rewarded for every person who benefited from your hard work. When you change for the better, other people are looking and you can influence them without even knowing about it. When you decide to do something because it's right or not to do something because it's wrong, you don't know who is watching you and how you can cause them to copy you (
If she can do it, so can I!)- and then the reward is yours to keep!

So take a lesson from the snow and try to focus on something that you can change now. You will feel cleansed after!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tears for Tefillah

Sometimes you just get frustrated. It's a fact of life. Things don't always go the way you want them to go and you just feel lost. You try to hold back the tears but you can't. And you just start to cry.

It's not a bad thing to cry. It's actually healthy. It's a way to let your emotions out and you feel better after wards. But sometimes you are crying for things that in reality are petty. Little things. Or many little things that piled up and by the time the day is done you are spent and need to just get it all out of your system. It's not one big thing but many small things that went wrong and then one tiny little frustration was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Tears are very powerful. It says, "Sha'arei dema'os lo ninalu" - the gates of tears are never closed. When a person davens with their heart, with their emotions and their tears, their tefillos go straight up. So if the gates of tears are never closed, why are there gates in the first place?

Because sometimes a person cries for silly things. Petty things. Like at the end of a frustrating day. You just have to let your emotions out and you just cry. But shouldn't you take advantage of the power of tears and do something worthwhile with them?

So how about this. When you feel you need to cry for those annoying things that went wrong during your day, use that powerful opportunity for tefillah so you can bring about something really big. Instead of just letting those tears slide down your cheeks and disappear into thin air, let those tears travel the heavens...and accomplish something with them.

When you are annoyed and those tears are falling down your cheeks, take a moment to use those tears to daven for something you need. Or for someone you know who needs something. Or for the entire Jewish Nation who is waiting for our ultimate dream to come true!

Today, the straw broke my back (for the what number time this week?!). There are so many little annoyances that can come along with raising children. It's so normal. It only makes sense that a mother like me will start to cry. But while I was crying together with my baby, I thought to myself, why not use this opportunity to daven for her future? And that's what I did. For those two extra minutes, I hugged my daughter real tight and begged Hashem to give her a good life.

So although I hope for all of you never to have to shed a tear, I know it's only normal for the little things that go wrong on a regular day to take its toll on a person. And while you will be crying, take a moment to daven for something you are waiting for...because you never know which tefillah will make that yeshuah, that salvation you so desperately are waiting for finally happen.

I'm gonna run...I hear Chaya Gitty crying...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

When You Hear Good News

How should you react when you hear good news?

I know what we do when we hear that someone is sick. We quickly take out our tehillim and start davening, begging Hashem for a yeshuah, for a salvation. But what about when we hear that someone got engaged? Shouldn't that cause us to do the same? Shouldn't that make us run to our tehillim and start thanking Hashem for such an exciting simcha?!

Hashem wants us to turn to Him. He wants us to acknowledge Him. There are plenty of ways to get us to remember that He exists and He's the One running the show. If we open our tehillim as soon as we hear about a simcha, maybe, just maybe, He will not have to give us tzaros, hardships, painful moments to get us to turn to Him.

When you hear that someone had a baby, someone got engaged, someone is getting married, someone is having an upsherin/bar mitzvah or reaching any other exciting milestone in their life, take a moment to thank Hashem for that! Say a perek of tehillim to thank Hashem for the simchos and exciting things happening in your life! Because if good things remind you that Hashem is in charge of everything that happens and that's what gets you to open up your tehillim, perhaps Hashem will not have to give you names of people who are sick to get you to say tehillim!

You can say Mizmor L'sodah or any other chapter that talks about praising or thanking Hashem. This way, you will turn your thoughts to Him whenever you hear good news and always remember that He is the One behind everything that happens!

Hopefully, when you turn to Hashem to thank Him for all the good things that happen to you, He will continue to send more good things your way - because that is the easiest way for Him to get you to acknowledge Him! Hashem wants to give you good, He wants to fill your life with happiness. But He also wants you to remember Him at all times. So if you keep thanking Him every time something good comes your way, He will continue to shower you with brachos!!

May you always find things to thank Hashem for and may He continue to give you things to be grateful for!

Baruch Hashem, a very close friend of mine just got engaged last night. Training myself to react to a simcha with a perek of tehillim on my lips took time, but by now it's (almost) second nature. After saying, "Mazel tov" (and getting the details of course), it's an automatic response to say "Mizmor L'soda" - thank you Hashem for such wonderful news!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Appreciation - a Video

Watch this video to see the importance of appreciation! Take a moment to thank someone who has touched your life - you never know how you can impact theirs!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fasting - Asarah B'Teves

This was posted before but since once again we are here on the tenth day of teves, I thought it would be a good idea to post this.

Today (okay, really tomorrow) is Asarah B'Teves, the 10th day in the month of teves where most of us are fasting.

Why do we stop eating?

I think, that when we stop eating, it gives our minds time to think and we can then focus on other things. We do think about food a lot on a regular day. Breakfast. Drink. Snack. Drink. Lunch. Drink. Snack. Snack. Supper. Drink. Snack. Drink. Snack...and Midnight snack?!
Yes, so when we stop for a moment and ask ourselves, why aren't we eating today? we should come up with some answers.

What happened on Asarah B'Teves? Since I'm not in school anymore, I couldn't even remember! All I was able to think of was a song from one of the tapes I heard when I was younger. (I think it was from Rebbe Alter.) The song goes like this:

Long ago on Asarah B'Teves
Do you know what happened children
The seige began
Nevuchadnetzar and his army
Surrounded Yerushalayim...

Today was the beginning of the Churban Bais Hamikdosh. It was the beginning of the destruction of Hashem's home. It was the first step towards losing the clarity that existed when the Bais Hamikdosh still stood. And that is why we are fasting. We are fasting to remind us of what we lost, what we are missing and what we can get back.

Do you want the Bais Hamikdosh back? Are you comfortable in galus?

I'm not.

So what can we do to get it back?

You know the answer. I know the answer. It's an easy answer. But it may not be so easy to do. Because if it was, then we wouldn't be where we are right now.

I think that what we can do to make moshiach come faster is this: Choose one thing bein adam lamakom and one thing bein adam lachaveiro that you will change and improve on. It can be something new that you will choose to do from now on or it can be something you want to improve and become better in. One thing between you and Hashem, (davening, learning, thanking, speaking to Him, brachos or any one mitzvah that you feel you can do better) and one thing in the way you treat other people (going out of your way for someone, helping, smiling, appreciating).

And if you need more ideas, look at the poll on the right. And remember, this is individual for you, because you have to look deep inside yourself and think of what you know you need to change.

Just one more thing, here's a quote that I made up that I think you can use for your bein adam lachaveiro change:

"A compliment a day goes a very long way!"

To read more about Asarah B'Teves, click on this link and this link.

In the zechus of all the changes you make, may you to see real changes in your life and in the lives of those around you!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Newborn Baby

Looking at a newborn baby is always a reason to marvel at the awesomeness of Hashem's creations. You see a tiny little person with all the body parts that an adult has, working perfectly. The same two eyes that you and I have, the newborn has. Ten fingers, ten toes, a heart that beats (ever so fast!) and a digestive system that works just so. It's just unbelievable to see it all in a tiny human being.

I am holding a precious little newborn baby as I type this. She's all dressed in pink (what other color can you dress a girl in anyway?!) and is looking around at the big world around her. Just one week ago, she made her grand entrance into this world with a loud "waaa" and I got to shout, "It's a GIRL!" with such excitement! Baruch Hashem another healthy baby has been born!

I take a look at this little princess who doesn't know anything about the world and just hope. Hope for her to grow up happy, healthy and always know the beauty of the life she was so lucky to be born into. A little baby is just so pure, so innocent...there's so much we can give over to them...they're like a piece of cement - they will learn whatever you teach them. What an awesome responsibility!

When I see a newborn baby, I cannot help but marvel at the fact that all of us started out like this. It is such a miracle to see how a child grows - from something so tiny into a little baby and then into a toddler...where did all that time go? And that we also went through these same growing be where we are today.

I look at her and think: she is pure potential. She has not done anything yet - not good and not bad. She has the ability to become...anything!!

And the truth is, each one of you can too! You have unlimited potential. When you open your eyes in the morning, you are about to begin a brand new day - with choices that only you can make and decisions that only you can come to. You can make it a great day just by choosing to do the right thing. You can overcome obstacles, you can grow, you can soar!

There's so much to learn from a newborn. And there's so much to teach to a newborn. I hope to be able to teach her all about goodness, truth, happiness, honesty and all the other important things she needs to know in order to live a fulfilling and productive life iy"h.

We named our daughter this past Shabbos -
Chaya was a name we added which means life and Gittel is after a relative who was killed in the holocaust, which means good. We are going to call her Chaya Gitty (or CG for short) and we hope and pray that she will always have a good life!

I probably said it a little better when
Shalom Baruch was born and my thoughts were more coherent but for now, that's my exciting news! Mazel tov and may we hear good news from all!!

(Sorry if this post doesn't flow...I
am pretty tired and not going on that much sleep...)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

At the Chanukah Candles

The following question was submitted anonymously using the form on the right.

I know its kind of late to ask being that Chanukah is almost over but I was wondering, what are we supposed to be thinking when the candles are being lit? And even after when you just look at the lights? Also is this a special time to ask to things and is there anything specific we should ask for then?

It's still not to late to get an answer to your question since there's still another night left to Chanukah. I don't know if there's a source for this but I have heard that when the menorah is lit, it is a very special time to daven for anything.

I also heard that one should look into the flames and let the light of the menorah penetrate your soul. Just by looking at the flickering Chanukah lights, you can affect your
neshama. You should just let yourself the flames. It can really impact you very strongly. It helps you get rid of the negative effects of things that you should not have looked at but saw. We live in a world where it is so easy to see the wrong things. Even without trying, just by walking down the street or turning your head the wrong way, images get thrown into your face and then they stay there forever.

So when you look into the flames and you watch the fire dancing, let it talk to your
neshama - it can help get rid of the tumah, the impurity, that may have penetrated your soul when you saw things you should not have seen.

When you stand in front of the menorah, take a few minutes to daven. Daven for those people who have never seen the beauty behind the Chanukah candles, daven for the people you know who are waiting for
yeshuos, who need a miracle to save them. Daven for those who are stuck in the dark and need Hashem to light up their lives with bracha.

It's a special moment that passes by so fast. The menorah is lit, the family gets busy with supper, cleaning or whatever it is. Some people have a custom to stay by the candles for 30 minutes and say certain
tefillos-prayers and specific perakim of tehillim. Whether or not this is your custom, you can definitely take the time to remain by the candles for a little bit of extra time so you can daven for something you are waiting for.

Think about the two
brachos that are said when the menorah is lit. The first one is that we were commanded to light the menorah and in the second one we thank Hashem for performing miracles bayamim haheim, bazman hazeh, in those days and in our days. Think about the miracles, big and small, that you were lucky to experience in your life. And think about the miracles you wish and hope for...and beg Hashem to make them come true!

May your
tefillos at the candles be accepted and may you be able to purify your soul by looking deep into those flames...and may your neshama always feel like a fire - excited and enthusiastic and ready to do all the mitzvos we are so lucky to be blessed with!

I hope this helps!

Also, please can the person who submitted this question comment to let me know that you read this answer and if you still have a question about what I wrote?

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Poem for Chanukah

It's Chanukah, time to sing and praise

It's Chanukah, Hashem doesn't cease to amaze

It's Chanukah, look deep inside your soul

It's Chanukah, a day to reach our goal

It's Chanukah, Hashem is waiting with open arms

It's Chanukah, it's time to listen to those internal alarms

It's Chanukah, a time heed Hashem's call

It's Chanukah, a time to read the writing on the wall

It's Chanukah, a holy and exalted day

It's Chanukah, a time to send the Yetzer Hara away

It's Chanukah, an opportune time to repent

It's Chanukah, a gift that is truly heaven sent

It's Chanukah, a time for that inner spark to be ignited

It's Chanukah, a time to start getting excited

It's Chanukah, a time to change your life

It's Chanukah, a time to end that inner strife

It's Chanukah, seize the moment as you light the Menorah

It's Chanukah, a time to truly start following the Torah

It's Chanukah, take advantage of these eight holy days

It's Chanukah, it will be easy to change your ways

It's Chanukah, all you have to do is make the leap

It's Chanukah, the endless reward is yours to keep

It's Chanukah, answer the call of "Mi LaHashem Ailai"

It's Chanukah, there is no longer a reason to cry

It's Chanukah, let the joy spread to one and all

It's Chanukah, we can - and must - answer the call

(I did not write this poem but got it as an email and wanted to share it with all of you.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Lessons From Chanukah

There are so many messages to take from Chanukah. There are so many lessons to learn from a candle. The neshama, the soul of each person is compared to a candle. Just like a candle always shines upwards, no matter which direction you turn it, so too, each person truly strives to go upwards. No matter which direction you turn, which situation a person is in, deep down each person really wants to go up, to get closer to Hashem. There is always a flickering flame, a pintele yid, inside the soul of every person. No matter how far they may have strayed, no matter what things they have done in their lives, a Jew always yearns to get closer to Hashem and you can never, ever give up on a Jewish soul.

A person might think to themselves, how important am I? I'm just one little person in this huge world! Does it really matter if I do the right thing? Does it really make a difference if I act in the proper manner? Does anyone really care?

So I wanted to share with you another message we can take from candles, flames and from the Chanukah story.

All it takes is one little flame to brighten up a may have been dark but now the room has been illuminated. That's the significance of one candle.

During the time of the miracle of Chanukah, there was no pure oil to light the menorah. And then ONE jug was found! Just one jug! What could be accomplished with one little jug of oil?! But they tried. The menorah was lit. It was a message as if to say,
we may not have the ability to make this menorah stay lit for the amount of time it will take to get more pure oil but we will do ours and leave the rest up to Hashem. This is the power of one small, pure jug of oil. Hashem did the rest and the menorah stayed lit for eight days!

So when you think you are just one in a million, think about the Chanukah story, the Chanukah miracle and remember how important YOU are! You are one person who has tremendous significance and you can and will shine!

Every night, after the menorah is lit, the following
bracha is said: She'asah nissim La'avoseinu, Bayamim Haheim, bazman hazeh-He performed miracles for our forefathers, in those days, in our times. Chanukah is a special time for miracles. It is a time for us to take a moment to reflect on the miracles Hashem has done for us in the past and a time to daven for miracles in our own lives. Take some time to daven for good things to happen for yourself and for those around you!

May each of you experience your own miracles very soon!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Saved by a Mitzvah

Here is an unbelievable story about how one mitzvah can truly save a person's life! We never know the power of one good deed and how standing up for the right thing can impact our own lives and the lives of others.

David Miller (name changed to protect privacy), an observant Jew, was at Logan Airport getting ready to board United Flight 175. He was going to LA on an important business trip and had to make this flight. A lot depended on it.

He boarded the plane and sat down as the doors closed.

Suddenly he remembered that he had left his tefillin (phylacteries--ritual boxes with straps worn by Jewish men in prayer) in the terminal boarding area. He politely asked the stewardess if he could go back and retrieve his tefillin, which were sitting just a few feet from the gate.

She told him that once the doors closed, no one was allowed off the plane. He asked to speak to the pilot to obtain special permission, but the pilot simply restated the policy.

David was not about to lose this precious mitzvah, or let the holy tefillin get lost, so, not knowing what else to do, he started screaming at the top of his lungs, "I am going to lose my tefillin!"

The crew asked him to be quiet, but he refused. He made such a tumult that the flight crew told him that they would let him off the plane, but even though it would only take about 90 seconds to run out, grab his tefillin, and run back - they were not going to wait for him.

No matter. David was not about to lose his tefillin, even if it caused him great inconvenience or cost his business a loss.

He left the plane, never to re-board.

This was United flight #175, the second plane to reach the World Trade Center. The date was September 11 2001.

David's devotion to a mitzvah saved his life, but the consequences of his actions do not end there.

Originally, the terrorists wanted both towers struck simultaneously to maximize the explosive carnage. Later it was learned that due to David's intransigence, the takeoff was delayed, causing a space of 18 minutes between the striking of the two towers.

The delay made it possible for thousands of people to escape alive from both buildings--because one Jew would not forsake his beloved tefillin!

This story is documented in "Even in the darkest moments" by Zeev Breier.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Illuminating the Darkness

One message that we can take from Chanukah is that even in the darkest of moments, there is always a light flickering, so we can light up our lives and find joy even when things are difficult. We all go through painful times and we all have our "down" days when we are just so upset we don't know how to continue. So how can we illuminate the darkness?

It is with a little bit of appreciation - that is the light that can help us pull through on the hard days. Here is a way for you to start to feel happy once again when you feel down or upset.

Go into a really dark room or stay where you are and...close your eyes for a full 30 seconds. Imagine the world is completely dark and you cannot see a thing. Use your imagination in those thirty seconds and let your mind wander...try to think what a day would be like without being able to see. You wake up in the morning and brush your teeth, feel for the toothbrush, paste...try to put your glasses/lenses on...get breakfast...and see how long you can keep your thoughts going for.

Once those thirty seconds are up, open your eyes and APPRECIATE!! You actually CAN see! And not just anything but so many colors and shapes, sizes and can keep yourself out of danger, make better decisions (how would you decide what to wear in the morning - and make sure you took out the right color shoes for whatever you chose to wear that day) and your life is so much sweeter and so much better...all because you can see!!!

Take some time to think about this and realize what a gift you have - there are people who are not blessed with the gift of sight and would pay any amount of money to be able to see for just a day! And every morning you wake up and the whole world is in front of you! You come home from a long day and you can see where each thing in your house is, you can see the delicious food you eat, you can see the beauty of nature, you can see yourself in the mirror!!

You have two eyes that work perfectly - better than any camera you'll ever find!

Spend some time thinking about this awesome gift you've been given - by Hashem, your father who loves you so much and wants you to enjoy your life and be happy and thank Him for the good He has given you!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chanukah - What is Bitachon?

HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon Shlita, recently provided fundamental introductory words to the Yom Tov of Chanukah. Chanukah teaches us yesodos, basics, in bitachon. With the mighty falling into the hands of the weak, the many losing battle after battle to the few, a little bit of oil lasting eight days, we learn that natural law, statistics and probability are not relevant to the Ba’al bitachon. What happened in the past is by no means determinative that the same will happen again in the future. On the other hand, bitachon in Hashem does not mean that we are confident that whatever we want to happen will happen. What is bitachon?

The Rabbeinu Yonah teaches that bitachon is hope. When statistics say that something is impossible, K’lal Yisroel still has hope, for Hashem can do anything. What we simply do not know is if Hashem, as the HaTov and HaMaitiv wants it to happen. We don’t know and often cannot see the Tov in events that occur. This is where the next step in bitachon comes in. We believe that notwithstanding our subjective hope, what really happens is all good. One may have davened for what he thought was good for him, but when the opposite occurred, Hashem indicated that in reality what he davened for was not the best for him. When we properly exercise our bitachon, we do not know what the outcome will be, for it depends on the Cheshbonos of the Ribbono Shel Olam.

Chanukah teaches that “Ain Od Melvado-there is nothing but His Will” is really the metziyus, the reality. In everyday life, this is hidden by nature, but in special moments (such as Chanukah and Purim, and perhaps other special times in a person’s life), Hashem makes it visible. It was a clear statistical impossibility for thirteen people (no matter how able bodied they were) to defeat tens of thousands. Hashem willed otherwise-and the rest is history that we celebrate -which reignites the flame of bitachon within us every year.

HaRav Salomon continues with a beautiful teaching of HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl (in Sefer Ruach Chaim to Avos 2:4). There, HaRav Chaim brings the famous Kepital in Tehillim (23)--”Hashem Roii Lo Echsar-Hashem is my shepherd-I will lack nothing.” Dovid HaMelech compares himself to a sheep whose whole existence depends on the shepherd. He leads them in a way that they won’t be injured-all is for their benefit even if they have no understanding. Dovid HaMelech teaches us all to follow the shepherd and feel secure, for even if one may be tired and harassed, he can have full confidence that the shepherd is leading him in the path that is really best. Sometimes we see the good, but often it is not visible. Knowing this, the Shivtecha-the stick that hits me, and Mishantecha-the stick that I lean upon, are really the same stick. Thus, Heimah Yenachamuni-they together assuage me because I have bitachon that everything is LeTova-for the good-for it all comes from the One who is All Good.

At the end of this week's Parsha, Parshas Vayeisheiv, Yosef HaTzaddik places some eminently justifiable reliance on the Sar Hamashkim-after all that he did for him. However, the end was, as the last word of the Parsha testifies-Vayishkacheihu-and he forgot him. [On the other hand, Dovid Hamelech exclaims-V’shavti Bevais Hashem L’Orech Yomim-I look to nothing else and to no one else, other than dwelling together with Hashem for length of days.] With this, Yosef learned that our hallmark for survival in galus among all those around us who in fact do us a favor if they only ‘forget us’-is looking to Hashem for anything and everything. The lesson learned is quickly brought into practice in next week’s Parsha as Yosef starkly and clearly advises Paroah, Biladai-it is not me, it is Hashem who makes all determinations and all decisions, and it is to Him that we must turn-in all dreams, and in all realities!

(Taken from a recent Hakhel post.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chanukah - Lighting Our World

If you are trying to see this video in google reader and it doesn't show up, come straight to the blog to see it - it's worth it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

He's Holding My Hand - a Poem

This poem was written by Tzipi Caton, author of Miracle Ride and was posted with her permission.

Some things, they just go wrong,
And there's no logic as far as you can see.
Some of us cry, some of us don't,
But most of us ask, "Why me?"

But there is logic behind it all,
A reason for our tears.
And the only one who knows that secret,
Is Hashem, who really cares.

It’s like this mashal I once heard,
That sort of helped me understand,
Where Hashem is compared to our father,
And we're compared to children in his hands.

You see, when a child is with his father,
He doesn't look if it's okay to cross the street,
He can just close his eyes and take his father's hand,
Then follow in the lead.

Because a child trusts his father implicitly,
He knows he'll never be lead astray.
I know that He'll look out for the dangers that I might miss,
And then he'll lead the way.

If we follow our father, Hashem,
He'll lead us on a direct path.
And then we find that our that our questions may be answered,
Before they're even asked.

Of course we all have the option,
Of letting go, and taking our own lead.
Though it's so much easier to rely on a father,
Who takes care of all our needs.

But every father has his secrets,
That is understood.
And some of these things should be kept hidden,
It's all for his child's good.

Yes, every child will sometimes get hurt,
It's just something we can't understand.
But in the end it'll all be okay,
If we keep hold of our father's hand.

This mashal gave me a bit of knowledge,
That brought tremendous relief.
I now know that it's not about understanding,
But just a matter of belief.

Monday, November 22, 2010

inspiration for chanuka:)

Making a Deal With G-d?

The following question was submitted anonymously using the form on the right.

Are you allowed to make deals with G-d?

I'm not that close enough to Him to be able to tell you what is and what is not allowed. This is not something I've seen written in a halacha sefer - "One may/may not make deals with Hashem for things s/he specifically wants." I will just suggest to you that there is a certain way to live life in which you will come out feeling happy and not upset when things do not work out the way you would like them to.

Why would a person want to make a deal with G-d? Partly because they want to feel like they are in control. Hashem, I'll do this and then you'll do that, deal? [Shake hands] But it doesn't work that way. Hashem is not your friend who you can just make deals with and then hope He will pull through at the end, as long as you kept your side of the deal. Hashem is the One and Only G-d who created the world and all that is in it - so it's only normal that there are going to be things that happen that you may not understand. It's something that as difficult as it is to accept, makes so much sense. How could a human being who is so limited understand the ways of Hashem?!

Did you read this post that I recently re-posted on the blog? It explains this concept really well - how Hashem is so beyond us that it is just impossible for us to understand His ways.

Making deals with Hashem will only lead to disappointment. The reason for this is that sometimes you will see Him "pulling through" and doing His side of the deal and other times you will see that He wont. If you tell Hashem, "I'm going to give x amount of money to tzeddakah and you make sure that I will have xyz happen to me." Hashem may have a reason why it is not good for xyz to happen to you. So if you give the tzeddakah (or make any other change in your life) and then you don't see the yeshuah you wanted, you will be frustrated and upset. And what about the times it does "work"? It's possible that the thing you wanted was good for you at that specific time and Hashem gave it to you - and you would have gotten to that point whether or not you would have made that deal with Him.

What's important to focus on is being a good Jew. Improving your middos. Watching the way you speak. Fixing up your tefillah. Being happy for other people when good things happen to them. Bringing Hashem into your life. Focusing on the good things you have. Strengthening your emunah and trust in Hashem that all He does is for the best.

There's no guarantee that the specific things you want to happen will happen to you but one thing is for sure. If you are constantly trying, striving to be better, you will be a happier person - regardless of whether you get those things you so desperately wanted - because you will know that Hashem loves you and only has good things in mind for you, even if you don't understand it at the moment.

My bracha to you is that you should be able to strengthen yourself to follow Hashem no matter what circumstances you find yourself in and your life should be filled with so much good that you will be too busy thanking Hashem for all you have to focus on making deals with Him!! He should send so much goodness your way that you will be overwhelmed with gratitude for all the blessings you have!

Please can the one who asked this question let me know that you read this answer, if it helped and if you still have questions about what I wrote. Thanks!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Names and Titles

The following question was submitted anonymously using the form on the right.

Why do we call the Avos or others from tanach by their first names and we call our Rabbis by a respectful title?

What a great question! I love hearing the questions you readers have and seeing how you think things through! You sound like someone who has a true desire to give the proper respect to all people - that is a middah we should all learn from and try to emulate!
Although I have not seen a source for this answer, I am taking the liberty to write up an answer that I thought of on my own.

Our Avos are called with the title father, Avraham Avinu, Yitzchok Avinu and Yaakov Avinu. This should remind us that they can be compared to our father in a very real way. We can and should learn practical lessons for life from the things we read about them in the Torah. Hashem wrote each thing down for a reason - because there is a message for us, the future generations to take from what happened.

They are not meant to be Avos in an unrealistic way. We are supposed to be able to view them as our REAL fathers. The things they went through and the challenges they endured are meant to give us strength - that we can go through these things too.

I remember when I was in Eretz Yisroel davening at Me'oras Hamachpeila, the place where Adam and Chava, Avraham and Sarah, Yitzchok and Rivka, Yaakov and Leah, are buried. It was such an overwhelming feeling when it hit me that this is where they are really buried! This is the place where our Avos - the ones we heard all those stories about - they are HERE! It's not just a joke, it's a REAL THING!! And then I thought about the different things I learned about them in the past, in school, things I've read about their nisyonos...and I davened, I said, "Hashem, please, give those people who are struggling with the same things our Avos struggled with, give them strength to go through and overcome their challenges..." I thought about each of the Avos and Imahos - Avraham and Sarah had so much to deal with - waiting for children, having to raise two different children - Yitzchok and Yishmoel...the Avos dealt with so many challenges that people in our generation are going through - shidduchim, parnassa (Yitzchok and the wells - every time he dug underground and found water, he was chased away and had to start all over again...) think about what each of our forefathers went through and realize that this is not just some story that we learn year after year - this is something real and true that happened!! And this should help us realize that Hashem gives us the strength to overcome any challenge we might face - because He has been with us from the beginning!! And He will be with us throughout our lives - there will never be a time that He wont be with us!!

So perhaps this is one of the messages you can take from the fact that we call our Avos by their names - this makes it much more personal and closer to our hearts. They were our fathers and we can learn from the things that happened to them, gather strength to go through our challenges - because Hashem will pull us through each time!

Another thing is that maybe our generation needs to call our own Rabbis by more respectful titles so that we respect them more. If we look back towards our Avos, of course we will view them respectfully and on a much higher level than us! But the Rabbis in our generation, we might think to ourselves that they are just like us (or almost on our own level). So we need to call them by respectful titles not for them - but for ourselves. So that we always remember to honor them, treat them properly and never to forget that they are much higher than we are and much greater than we are and they deserve the respect that we give them.

I hope this helps you!
Also, please can the person who submitted this question comment to let me know that you read this answer and if you still have a question about what I wrote?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shabbos Candles

(This was posted before... Enjoy!)

When Shabbos comes, after all the hours of preparation and last minute rush, the mother of the house lights Shabbos candles. She says the bracha, covers her eyes and begins to daven. This special time of welcoming Shabbos into our homes is used as an opportunity to ask Hashem for good children. It is also a chance to ask Hashem for anything and everything. When your mother lights candles, you can also stand there with her and daven for your own personal needs. Daven for other people who have not yet experienced the beauty of yiddishkeit. Daven for people you know who need health, shidduchim, yeshuos, parnassah, shalom bayis. Daven for those neshamos who have left the path of Torah and that they should want to come back to Hashem.

There is a special holiness in the Shabbos candles. The neshama is compared to a candle because just like when you hold a candle in your hands, whichever way you turn it, the flame will always go upwards, a neshama always seeks to strive higher and get closer to Hashem. No matter which way you turn it-no matter what situation a person is in, their neshama always screams from inside-it wants to get closer to Hashem!

When Shabbos comes, we are given an extra neshama-a neshama yeseira. This is why Shabbos is a day where we can achieve higher levels of ruchniyus. It can be compared to a balloon. When you blow it up, there is more room in it. On Shabbos, Hashem blows this extra neshama into you and that is why you can grow even more on Shabbos-if you use the time you have to come closer to Him.

Also, on Shabbos, Hashem says, I want you to enjoy all the goodness and brachos I put into this world. Make extra special foods! Buy things you like to eat and enjoy all the pleasures that I have put in to this world and then, THANK ME for the great things I gave you!! Hashem wants us to enjoy Shabbos! He wants us to be happy! He wants us to use the brachos He gave us to come closer to Him and thank Him for all the good things He gave us!!

Spend time with your friends, read something you enjoy and relax! It is your day!!

When Shabbos is over, we also light a candle. The extra neshama-which is compared to a candle-leaves us. I was once at someone's house for Shabbos and right before the father came home for havdalah, their little boy, who must have been about 5 years old had this sad look on his face, held his heart and said, "Mommy, I'm so sad, I feel my neshama yeseirah leaving me!!" Imagine that! The innocence and purity of a little child! He was able to picture it and really let the feeling into his heart!! Isn't that precious?

So this Shabbos, when the candles are lit, take a few moments to daven for yourself, your future and for all the people you know who need yeshuos!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Suffering? You must be kidding!!

Chaya Sara posted this once before - I'm posting it here now because I think it has a great message. Take it in!!

This is one cute idea on a new twist to suffering!!

A man went to the barber shop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they talked about so many different subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of Hashem the barber said:"I dont believe that Hashem exists."

"Why do you say that?" asked the customer.

"Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that Hashem doesn't exist. Tell me, if Hashem would be real would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If Hashem existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving father would allow all of these things."

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barber shop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt.
The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber, "You know what? Barbers do not exist."

"How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "And I just worked on you!!"

"No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like the man outside."

Ah but Barbers do exist!!

"What happens is, people do not come to me."

"Exactly!" affirmed the customer. "Thats the point! Hashem too does exist! What happens is people don't go to him and do not turn to him for help."

He is ready to "cut your beard" you just did not go in and ask him!! (Hashem is the best barber he trims away your pain its soo good!!)

As you turn to Hashem and have a real heart to heart talk with him you will feel some of the pain leaving you!! Bec. you are going to the One who can cure everything!!
How do I do this??
Take a walk by yourself or go into a room where you can be alone and just start with one min. "Hashem you know i had a hard day today... my teacher yelled at me, telling me i am irresponsible bec. I did not have my work with me"....or I upset my mother this morning and now I am in such a bad mood!! (def. not you maybe your friend you could tell this too... you never have a hard day!! just kidding) so now wait for Hashem to answer you...
maybe someone will call you at night and say please can you babysit for me I need someone like you who is very responsible... now you see hashem made her say these words to make you feel better, just bec. you did not have your work does not mean that you are forever labled irresponsible...
Or when you come home you help your mother with a smile and she totally forgets about the morning... she says thank you soo much for your you feel soo much better.(by the way when you leave from beg. of the day till end, people forget how they were in a bad mood over a small tiny thing!)
so these are the messages that we have to look out for so that when we come to him we will see Hashem really being there for us!!
this def. does not do justice to real suffering its just a cute idea!!

The message is prob. pretty clear, Hashem wants us to talk to him and ask him to help us so that he could be there for us in our pain! well someone might say, Hashem is the one who gives me the pain why should I want turn to him??? Don't we all at times feel like, Hashem why are you doing this to me??? Where are you when I need you the most? However we have to look for him and notice all the little things that he does. When you actually sit down and have a conversation with Hashem the way you talk to a friend you will feel so much lighter! how? bec. HASHEM HAS A STORAGE BOX WHERE HE TAKES AWAY PAIN FROM PEOPLE AFTER YOU SHARE IT WITH HIM HE TAKES IT AND STORES IT AWAY AND YOU DONT FEEL THE PAIN HALF AS STRONG AS BEFORE!!
If you open up your heart and your mind to hear the messages that hashem is sending you, you can hear them for real.
Live your life with your eyes wide open not just to look, but to look and see
what messages has Hashem sent to me!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Mother's Tears

Yair Eitan’s father ran a produce distribution business in Northern Israel. When Yair was old enough, he began driving the delivery truck. One of his regular deliveries was at Yeshivah Lev V’Nefesh, whose student body was primarily comprised of baalei teshuvah. Yair’s parents had carefully shielded him from his religion; his upbringing was strictly secular.

The joy and excitement Yair saw within the yeshivah walls aroused his curiosity. He allowed himself to be drawn into conversation with a few yeshivah students. On his third trip there, Yair was already sitting down for a few minutes to sample Torah study. When Yair finally told his parents what he had discovered in the yeshivah, his father became enraged.
"No son of mine is going to become a backward, bearded chareidi! You are no longer to deliver to that route and you are forbidden to visit that yeshivah, or any other yeshivah, ever again!"

Yair knew that one must obey one’s father, except when a parent explicitly commands a child to disobey the Torah. He continued to clandestinely visit the yeshivah. But his father found out, and he reacted violently. Yair, however, was determined. He inquired as to other available yeshivos, left a note wishing his parents well, and left without revealing his destination.

His father searched for him and forced him to return home. Not only that, he blamed the Rosh Yeshivah of Lev V’Nefesh and filed charges against him of brainwashing his 18-year-old son and of engineering his flight from home. The trial aroused great interest, and the trial date found a packed courtroom eagerly awaiting to hear the proceedings. Yair’s testimony did not help the prosecution at all. Yair insisted that he had not been coerced to attend the yeshivah; it was of his own volition.

While Yair was recounting his story, the judge presiding over the case, an elderly man, seemed a bit distracted. He would intermittently take his eyes off the speaker to gaze intently at Yair’s father. When Yair left the witness stand, the judge announced, "I would like Mr. Eitan to step forward."

Yair’s father was surprised as he stepped up to the witness stand. The judge asked if he was of Eastern European descent, if his name back in Europe was perhaps "Stark". Mr. Eitan was clearly taken aback, and he stammered that the judge was indeed correct. "And are you originally from Pinsk?" asked the judge. Mr. Eitan nodded meekly.

The judge continued, "I remember you well. You come from one of the finest homes of pre-War Pinsk. Your father was a deeply religious and highly respected man. Your mother was renowned for her kindness. She would cook meals for the poor and the sick regularly. I remember well when, as an 18-year-old, you openly departed from your parents’ ways. When you publicly desecrated the Shabbos for the first time, your father aged overnight and seemed to be constantly in mourning. Your mother would shed a river of tears every Friday night when she lit the candles. I often wondered what became of all her tears. I’m not the most religious person, but I know that there is a G-d who runs this world, and I could not understand how the tears of so righteous a woman could be ignored in Heaven.

"Today my question has been answered. I see that her tears were not shed in vain. Today, almost 50 years later, her grandson has returned to the ways of his ancestors. Mr. Eitan, I’m sure you recall that on more than one occasion, friends of your parents pleaded with you that for your parents’ sake you should at least refrain from public transgression. As I recall, your response was, ‘I’m now eighteen and I make my own decisions. I can live my life any way I please.' And you dare to file charges because your eighteen-year-old son has returned to the ways that you abandoned?”

“Case dismissed.”

No matter what pain you are in Hashem is holding your hand and carrying you through your hard times just ask him to help you!!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Ahh...Shabbos is here! Shabbos is here!

Can you imagine a world without Shabbos?!

Can you imagine a week that never ended?

Can you imagine an existence that offered no rejuvenation?

It's hard to imagine surviving without Shabbos.

Thank you Hasem for this precious gift of Shabbos.

A day to reflect.

A day to grow.

A day to recharge.

A day to live for real.

A day like no other.

Can you imagine a week of only Shabbos?

Soon, very soon, moshiach will arrive to herald the news.

Every day will be Shabbos, yes every day.

Yom Shekulo Shabbos.

No more pain.

No more troubles.

No more galus.

No more illness.

Only Shabbos.

Shabbos Kodesh.

May it come soon.

May it stay with us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why Do Good People Die Young - Part 2

This is the question that was asked: Stories like those you write of your brother do the opposite of inspiring me. they frustrate me to no end. its the very picture of tzaddik v'ra lo. there are times i read stories like these and i feel almost sure that being too good,too holy is a sure way to shorten your life. you read the obituaries in the papers and they are full of young righteous people. your brother did everything right. i'm sure he earned arichut yamim, so why didn't he get too see 16? i don't find any peace in hearing its hashem's will. that kind of answer reminds me of when i was a kid and my mother would tell me "because i said so, thats why" . its a throw away answer and leaves me no wiser than before i asked. if a boy like this didn't have the zechutim to save him, if the couple in dubai didn't have the zechutim to save them, if talia applebaum didn't have the zechuyot to save her, what hope is there for us regular folks? why should God grant me life and not them? I'm sorry if this rubs salt on a wound but i need to know.

To read the beginning of this topic, click here.

At the Shabbos table this week, we discussed this question. We know people young because they are tzadikim from a posuk in last week’s parsha. In 10:3 it says “bikrovay akadesh”. Hashem says He will make Himself Holy through those who are close to Him. When Hashem judges even the greatest tzadik with exact judgment, it is a lesson about His Perfection. Only G-d is perfection. Even these great men have flaws, since they are human. So much more so the wicked!

Rashi explains that when Hashem said “venikdash bichvodi”, “I will be made Holy through my honor”, it can mean “venikdash bemichubodai”, “I will be made Holy through those who honor Me”. Moshe told Aharon that he thought the one through which Hashem would make Himself Holy was either Moshe or Aharon. Now Moshe saw that Nadav and Avihu were greater than Moshe and Aharon, because Hashem chose them to make Himself Holy. We understand that to mean that Moshe and Aharon were HOPING to be worthy of increasing Hashem’s glory. They were eager to be “punished” so they could be medium for Hashem’s kavod. They were Michubodai – ones who glorified Hashem. That was their only ambition in life. (Remember Rabbi Akiva saying his whole life he was waiting for the chance to give up his life for Hashem.) Hashem chooses people like that to increase the world’s knowledge of His transcendence. Hashem usually does not use people who are not eager for such a big part of kavod Hashem, who love their nefesh more than they love Hashem. So, it is not only fair, it makes perfect sense. The tzadik who dies young to strengthen awareness of Hashem considers himself fortunate – he considers it tzadik vetov lo! He considers it a zechus to be elevated as a sacrifice for Hashem’s honor. We regular folk can almost consider ourselves “safe” from the “danger” of Hashem choosing us for such a mission. We don’t want it, understand it, or appreciate it. And Hashem only reveals His holiness through those who live to honor Him.

This relates to the arichas yomim question. The Rambam (Teshuva 9) explains there is no way Hashem can give reward for Mitzvos in this imperfect world. All the Torah’s positive effects for doing good in this world for doing Mitzvos are not reward. They are the means to do even more good, so you can earn even more true reward in the next world.

ג כָּל אוֹתָן הַדְּבָרִים אֱמֶת הָיוּ, וְיִהְיוּ, וּבִזְמָן שֶׁאָנוּ עוֹשִׂין כָּל מִצְווֹת הַתּוֹרָה, יַגִּיעוּ אֵלֵינוּ טוֹבוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה כֻּלָּן; וּבִזְמָן שֶׁאָנוּ עוֹבְרִין עֲלֵיהֶן, תִּקְרָא אוֹתָנוּ הָרָעוֹת הַכְּתוּבוֹת. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵין אוֹתָן הַטּוֹבוֹת, הֶן סוֹף מַתַּן שְׂכָרָן שֶׁלַּמִּצְווֹת; וְלֹא אוֹתָן הָרָעוֹת, הֶן סוֹף הַנְּקָמָה שֶׁנּוֹקְמִין מֵעוֹבֵר עַל כָּל הַמִּצְווֹת. אֵלָא כָּךְ הוּא הֶסֵּעַ הַדְּבָרִים.

ד הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נָתַן לָנוּ תּוֹרָה זוֹ, עֵץ חַיִּים, וְכָל הָעוֹשֶׂה כָּל הַכָּתוּב בָּהּ, וְיוֹדְעוֹ דֵּעָה גְּמוּרָה נְכוֹנָה--זוֹכֶה בָּהּ לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא; וּלְפִי גֹּדֶל מַעֲשָׂיו וְגֹדֶל חָכְמָתוֹ, הוּא זוֹכֶה. וְהִבְטִיחָנוּ בַּתּוֹרָה שְׁאִם נַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתָהּ בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְטוֹבַת נֶפֶשׁ, וְנֶהְגֶּה בְּחָכְמָתָהּ תָּמִיד--שֶׁיָּסִיר מִמֶּנּוּ כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הַמּוֹנְעִים אוֹתָנוּ מִלַּעֲשׂוֹתָהּ, כְּגוֹן חֹלִי וּמִלְחָמָה וְרָעָב וְכַיּוֹצֶא בָּהֶן. וְיַשְׁפִּיעַ לָנוּ כָּל הַטּוֹבוֹת הַמְּחַזְּקִים אֶת יָדֵינוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת הַתּוֹרָה, כְּגוֹן שֹׂבַע וְשָׁלוֹם וּרְבוֹת כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב--כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא נַעְסֹק כָּל יָמֵינוּ בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁהַגּוּף צָרִיךְ לָהֶן, אֵלָא נֵשֵׁב פְּנוּיִים לִלְמֹד בְּחָכְמָה, וְלַעֲשׂוֹת הַמִּצְוָה, כְּדֵי שֶׁנִּזְכֶּה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר בַּתּוֹרָה אַחַר שֶׁהִבְטִיחַ בְּטוֹבוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, "וּצְדָקָה, תִּהְיֶה-לָּנוּ . . ." (דברים ו,כה).

ה וְכֵן הוֹדִיעָנוּ בַּתּוֹרָה שְׁאִם נַעֲזֹב הַתּוֹרָה מִדַּעְתֵּנוּ וְנַעְסֹק בְּהַבְלֵי הַזְּמָן, כְּעִנְיַן שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "וַיִּשְׁמַן יְשֻׁרוּן וַיִּבְעָט" (דברים לב,טו)--שֶׁדַּיָּן הָאֱמֶת יָסִיר מִן הָעוֹזְבִים כָּל טוֹבוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, שְׁהֶן חִזְּקוּ יְדֵיהֶם לִבְעֹט, וּמֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶן כָּל הָרָעוֹת הַמּוֹנְעִים אוֹתָן מִלִּקְנוֹת הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, כְּדֵי שֶׁיֹּאבְדוּ בְּרִשְׁעָם. הוּא שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה, "וְעָבַדְתָּ אֶת-אֹיְבֶיךָ, אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ ה' בָּךְ" (דברים כח,מח), "תַּחַת, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-עָבַדְתָּ אֶת-ה'" (דברים כח,מז).

ו נִמְצָא פֵּרוּשׁ כָּל אוֹתָן הַבְּרָכוֹת וְהַקְּלָלוֹת, עַל דֶּרֶךְ זוֹ: כְּלוֹמַר אִם עֲבַדְתֶּם אֶת ה' בְּשִׂמְחָה, וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם דַּרְכּוֹ--מַשְׁפִּיעַ לָכֶם הַבְּרָכוֹת הָאֵלּוּ וּמַרְחִיק הַקְּלָלוֹת, עַד שֶׁתִּהְיוּ פְּנוּיִים לְהִתְחַכַּם בַּתּוֹרָה וְלַעְסֹק בָּהּ, כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּזְכּוּ לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, וְיִיטַב לָךְ לָעוֹלָם שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ טוֹב וְתַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים לָעוֹלָם שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ אָרוּךְ. וְנִמְצֵאתֶם זוֹכִין לִשְׁנֵי הָעוֹלָמוֹת, לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הַמְּבִיאִין לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא: שְׁאִם לֹא יִקְנֶה הֵנָּה חָכְמָה וּמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים--אֵין לוֹ בַּמֶּה יִזְכֶּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר "כִּי אֵין מַעֲשֶׂה וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן, וְדַעַת וְחָכְמָה, בִּשְׁאוֹל . . ." (קוהלת ט,י).

ז וְאִם עֲזַבְתֶּם אֶת ה' וּשְׁגִיתֶם בְּמַאֲכָל וּמַשְׁקֶה וּזְנוּת וְדוֹמֶה לָהֶם--מֵבִיא עֲלֵיכֶם כָּל הַקְּלָלוֹת הָאֵלּוּ וּמֵסִיר כָּל הַבְּרָכוֹת, עַד שֶׁיִּכְלוּ יְמֵיכֶם בְּבֶהָלָה וּפַחַד, וְלֹא יִהְיֶה לָכֶם לֵב פָּנוּי וְלֹא גּוּף שָׁלֵם לַעֲשׂוֹת הַמִּצְווֹת, כְּדֵי שֶׁתֹּאבְדוּ מֵחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְנִמְצָא שֶׁאִבַּדְתֶּם שְׁנֵי עוֹלָמוֹת: שֶׁבִּזְמָן שֶׁאָדָם טָרוּד בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה בְּחֹלִי וּבְמִלְחָמָה וּרְעָבוֹן, אֵינוּ מִתְעַסֵּק לֹא בְּחָכְמָה וְלֹא בְּמִצְוָה שֶׁבָּהֶן זוֹכִין לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא.

Whenever we fulfill the commandments of the Torah, we will receive all good earthly matters. Whenever we violate them, all the mentioned evils will happen to us. Nevertheless, the goodness is not all the reward for fulfilling commandments consists of, and the evils are not the entire punishment received by sinners.

This is how Hashem decides all matters: HKB”H, gave us this Torah, which is a support of life. Anybody who does what He wrote in it and knows everything in it is complete and correct will merit life in the World to Come. He will merit [a portion] according to the goodness of his actions and to the extent of his knowledge. The Torah assures us that if we fulfill the Torah with joy and pleasure and always act according to it, then illness, war, famine, etcetera, which could prevent us from doing so, will go away. Plenty, peace, richness, et cetera, which will aid us in fulfilling the Torah will come our way. This way, we will not have to occupy ourselves all day in [getting] bodily needs. We will be free to learn and gather knowledge and fulfill commandments to merit life in the World to Come. As the Torah says after it promises goodness in this world, "And it will be an opportunity for us, if we are careful to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us".

The Torah also tells us that if someone willingly neglects the Torah to chase valueless activities...the True Judge removes all the goodness of this world that they had but used to reject Hashem. He will bring on them all the evils that will prevent them from getting life in the World to Come, so they will be lost in their wickedness...

Hashem fulfills all the blessings and curses in this manner. If one serves God with joy and follows His ways, he will get that much blessing. Hashem will remove all the curses from him so he will be free to become knowledgeable in Torah and busy himself in it. This way, he will merit life in the World to Come. If one does not gain wisdom and if one has no meritorious deeds, then with what will one merit life in the World To Come?! ...

If one ignores God and offends through food, feasting, adultery, or similar activities, he will get all these curses and remove all the blessings. His days will end in panic and fear. He will not have the opportunities or perfect body to perform mitzvos, and he will not merit life in the World to Come. Then he will have missed two worlds. When someone is troubled in this world by illness, plague or hunger he does not busy himself with learning or mitzvos, which he could use to merit life in the World to Come.

We see now that arichas yomim is not a reward for serving Hashem. Hashem gives arichas yomim to people who use their days wisely, so they will have more days to use wisely! Occasionally a person can gain more by not living long. Sometimes, when a good person dies young, he or she can do more tikkunolam through dying than they could have done had they lived 120 years. Think about Rav Shimshon Pincus. When he was alive he was unknown. It is unlikely he would have had such enormous impact if he were still alive. A person whose purpose in life is to perfect the world looks forward to the opportunity to increase his kvod shomayim leverage exponentially. Hashem offers the opportunity to such a person.